Once a year, municipal and provincial governments keep the last week of September open in their schedules for meetings and consultations to help ensure multiple levels of government are collaborating across British Columbia.
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities holds its annual conference this year from Sept. 26 until Sept. 30 at the new Vancouver Convention Center. One of the advantages of large province-wide conferences like this is that rural and northern mayors and MLAs get to share with urban-focused politicians the opportunities and challenges that they might not otherwise be made aware of.
As I’ve explained before, helping people from urban areas view things through a “rural lens” can be a challenge at times when travelling to Victoria, but I believe a northern and rural perspective is always important. Something that has helped this perspective in years past is that three past presidents of UBCM are from the Cariboo Chilcotin riding.
Former mayor Jim Fraser of Williams Lake, former mayor Herb Gardner of Williams Lake and former mayor Ross Marks from 100 Mile House have all worked hard to help bring a rural perspective to UBCM.
I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences of the Rural Caucus tour from this summer and hopefully shedding some light on how different life in rural areas is than in a city setting, and how we can support one another.
I’m pleased that people like myself and the mayors from 100 Mile House and Williams Lake can be advocates for the residents of the Cariboo and we work hard to ensure that their voices are heard.
What UBCM really does is help unite various levels of government so that we can move forward together. We all have our political positions, but it’s always more beneficial for us to work together to find a common ground and do what is best for B.C., rather than squabble over differences. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made so far and am optimistic about the direction we are heading in.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.