Haida Gwaii victory at the UBCM

  • Oct. 5, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Haida Gwaii scored a victory at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in Vancouver last week, with local politicians from across the province voting in favour of two resolutions that directly affect the islands. A resolution about BC Ferries, put forward by Port Clements, asked that the provincial government recognize ferry service as an extension of the public highway system, and reduce fares to create equity between the terrestial and marine highway systems. Port councillor Wally Cheer said there was a lot of interest in this resolution. The politicians at the conference made two small changes to Port’s original wording, expanding it to include all coastal communities and calling on the government to reduce fares rather than just freeze them. The second resolution calls on the federal government to put Haida Gwaii back into the full northern living allowance deduction zone, pointing out that federal employees here enjoy the benefit of full isolation pay. The resolution also asked for a review of how communities are zoned for the northern living allowance. Once again, a majority of the hundreds of politicians at the conference voted in favour of this resolution, said Port administrator Heather Nelson-Smith. “We had a lot of support from all the communities,” she said. The Port representatives, Mr. Cheer, Ms Nelson-Smith and councillor Ian Gould, also met with the Forests Minister and the Tourism Minister. Mr. Cheer said the Forests meeting was only about 12 minutes long but covered several items, including the need for consistent employment in the islands communities and the need for a decision on the annual allowable cut for the islands. At the tourism meeting, Mr. Gould said he asked for funding for the Misty Isles Economic Development Society to help pay for a part-time employee, and money to help advertise the name “Haida Gwaii” for the islands. It was Mr. Gould’s first trip to the UBCM conference and he said he learned a lot about how important networking is among the local politicians and provincial bureaucrats. He said he was particularly impressed with Queen Charlotte mayor Carol Kulesha, who showed a lot of skill in advocating for Haida Gwaii’s interests and issues.