Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach will soon be travelling to Vancouver to take part in a climate action training for elected officials.
The 2017 Climate Leadership Institute will be held on Nov. 1-3, 2017 at the Hilton Vancouver Airport.
“I think it’s good for Burns Lake that we take part in this,” said Mayor Beach during a recent council meeting. “This is an area of interest for me – I’m a light turner-offer, I don’t like idling, it bothers me.”
“I respect if council feels that I shouldn’t go to this, but I think it’s a good thing for the town,” he added. “I know I’ve done quite a bit of travelling this year.”
Earlier this year, Mayor Beach used council’s annual travel budget to attend a conference in Ottawa, and most recently he spent about a week in Victoria while attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Although Mayor Beach did not answer specifically how much his travels have cost taxpayers so far in 2017, he said council as a whole has only used approximately 50 per cent of their travel budget.
“Total travel expenses for council will show up when we do year end, so likely March ,” Beach told Lakes District News last week.
As a councillor, Beach’s expenses were significantly higher than other councillors in 2016, even though Beach resigned in October 2016 in order to run for mayor. His expenses in 2016 were also higher than former Mayor Luke Strimbold, who resigned in September.
During a recent council meeting, councillor Susan Schienbein said that if council decides that climate change will be a priority, then council should include it on their objectives.
“I don’t think it’s on our goals and objectives for 2018,” said Schienbein. “If we think this is important, maybe we should think about amending our strategic plan to incorporate some goals around this issue, and have a legitimate reason for participation [in the climate action event],” she said.
Councillor Kelly Holliday reminded council of their budget decision to no longer be a member of the B.C. Municipal Climate Leadership Council, which is composed of mayors and councillors from across B.C. representing communities who are committed to climate action.
“We had a budget decision to no longer be a member of this organization, and now you’re going to this conference… are we going to revisit whether we should be a member and what are the benefits?” asked Holliday.
To that, Mayor Beach said that going to this event will be a good way to make that assessment.
“Maybe I’ll go to the conference and then report back to council if there is value in being a part of that organization,” said Beach.
In the end, council voted to allow Mayor Beach to attend the 2017 Climate Leadership Institute.
Beach added that the B.C. Municipal Climate Leadership Council has offered him $250 toward travel expenses to attend the event, and that the $275 registration fee has been waived.