Islanders to lobby politicians at UBCM

  • Sep. 11, 2013 3:00 p.m.

Eleven local politicians and two staff members are heading to Vancouver next week to meet with a long list of provincial cabinet ministers at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention. The convention is a unique opportunity for community representatives to lobby government officials, said Queen Charlotte administrator Peter Weeber, and they intend to take full advantage of it. The Queen Charlotte delegation – mayor Carol Kulesha, councillors Greg Martin, Ellen Cranston, Kris Olsen, and Mr. Weeber – will be meeting with the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development about increasing small community grants, with the Ministry of Transportation about line painting and roadwork issues, with the Ministry of Forests about the Haida Gwaii community forest and resource roads, with the Ministry of the Environment about the Enbridge pipeline and other proposed developments in the north, with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations about the village’s joint sewer treatment project with Skidegate, and with the Ministry of Health about midwife support and the possibility of more services at the new hospital. “They’ll get face to face with the people who make the decisions that affect our lives,” Mr. Weeber said. “It’s not a leisurely trip… It’s the only opportunity you get to meet with the decision makers.” The islands politicians will also attend sessions where provincial delegates vote on resolutions, and meet with agencies like BC Hydro and the Municipal Finance Authority. One of the top issues that the Haida Gwaii delegates will be talking about whenever possible is BC Ferries and the impact of rising fares. The regional district has scheduled a meeting with Premier Christy Clark, Mr. Weeber said, and the delegates from Haida Gwaii are all welcome to attend. Masset mayor Andrew Merilees and councillors Barry Pages and Bret Johnston will also be attending the convention, as will Port mayor Wally Cheer, councillor Matt Gaspar and administrator Kim Mushynsky. Regional district directors Evan Putterill and Mike Racz are also attending. The convention runs from Sept. 16 to 20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.