We talk; does government listen?

One of the admirable features of democracy is the fact that the citizenry can (and may) provide input to their government representatives, in the expectation that these representatives will listen, ponder, and then can be counted on to enact policies that follow the will of the voters.

Although it’s extremely unlikely that any single citizen’s demand will suddenly appear as law based on a letter to his MLA, there do exist channels through which priorities already considered by local governments such as the City of Terrace can be publicized for government scrutiny and consideration. One of these channels is the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

With offices and staff in Richmond and Victoria, this organization endeavors to represent local governments in BC through advocacy, policy development, communications, training, and communications.

The UBCM understands the operations of local governments, their responsibilities, their authorities, and the challenges that broadly face them. They also support well-defined relations among member cities, and between local governments and the provincial and federal governments that hold hierarchical powers within the Canadian constitution.

Once a year, the UBCM holds a convention to consider anew the various challenges with which municipal governments must contend. These may be to do with local services to citizens, encouragement of business, care for the environment, relations with First Nations, health issues, land use/development (e.g. industrial development, affordable housing, etc.), and justice and policing. Dozens of topics and suggestions, often in the form of resolutions, are considered by municipal representatives gathered from throughout the province.

Every municipal member of the UBCM has the right to bring resolutions to the convention. Given the wide variety of geographical, economic and cultural characteristics of BC’s political communities, these resolutions may be widely divergent in direction and in their significance to the broader membership.

Several months following the convention, the UBCM publishes a report on the business done there. 2017’s convention consisted of two days of pre-convention meetings followed by two days of business. The recently released report on the 2017 event runs to over 200 pages.

Of interest to Terrace citizens may be some of the resolutions Terrace representatives brought to the convention. One resolution involved amending the formula for the split in funding responsibility between local regional hospital districts and the provincial government in providing for the construction of a new hospital (a hot button topic here). Another resolution concerned legislated timelines for accessing Trauma 3 Level of Care throughout the province.

Our neighbours in Kitimat sponsored a resolution seeking a legal requirement for very high engineering standards for pipeline safety, and another recommending that the provincial government implement policies and regulations to “facilitate and stimulate value-added resource development.”

Reading through the UBCM report is a vivid reminder that democracy is a long, slow, tedious process, but one that is nonetheless inspiring because of its comprehensive inclusivity. It also clearly illustrates the complexity of real democratic governance. Although we may decry the undue influence of lobbyists, whose access to government decision-makers often seems something of a short-cut and can often barely pass the sniff test of “Is this bribery?”, citizen access to governments can be amplified when such organizations as the UBCM bring communities from across the province together to make united recommendations.

As always, the reminder that “democracy is not a spectator sport” applies.

Just Posted

SAR leads helicopter Family Day rescue to retrieve injured climber

Pilot had to hover over waterfall as rescue team lifted two people to safety

Canadian Snowbirds may return to Terrace after 20 years

Terrace would kick off three B.C. Snowbird performances in 2020 if approved

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

City of Terrace reacts to $8 million provincial infrastructure grant

This is the largest grant ever received by the city, mayor says

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read