It may come as no surprise to you that politicians have no shortage of things to talk about. What might be more interesting to you is how we talk to each other.
This week will provide one of those rare opportunities for local governments to gather and discuss common issues when the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments meets in Kimberley. Regional directors, councillors and mayors will spend a few days together to learn, debate and move issues of regional importance forward. I am the current chair for this raucous group and I have to say I love every minute of it.
Councils and boards have submitted a total of 18 resolutions this year dealing with issues from how the federal government will share revenues from the eventual legalization of marijuana to fish stocks in Kootenay Lake and how we protect our fresh water sources.
Local governments are also concerned about how property taxes aren’t adequate to fund capital projects for our hospitals and in how we manage our forests. All 18 resolutions will be roundly debated and those that make the mark will move forward to the provincial level. This association brings a strong rural voice to the province which balances the urban perspective.
Local governments from across the Basin remain watchful for any developments regarding the Columbia River Treaty. The Treaty was recently mentioned in a news release when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Washington. The article stated that a lead negotiator had been identified which implied that talks may be imminent. I communicate regularly with the province on this issue.
We’ve learned that before a negotiator is appointed, the US will have a conversation with BC and that conversation hasn’t happened yet. Both BC and the US have been meeting annually since the beginning of the review to prepare for eventual negotiations. These meetings have been helpful in understanding strategies and positions. BC has stated its intention to seek improvements to the existing framework, while the US is continuing its review of federal interests.
No timeline has been set. In the meantime, the province continues to refine studies on potential improvements. A report on what a mid-Arrow water level option would look like will be released to the public in the next few months. As well, the province is doing a valuation of Treaty benefits to the US and further studies on climate change impacts. All of this information will be part of the negotiation package that defines the improvements we seek.
Climate change and its impacts were the focal point of the Hot and Bothered in the Kootenays forum held this past weekend in Nelson. You proved that water and climate change are top of mind for people across this region. This sold-out event gathered residents from the East and West Kootenays and Boundary region to begin the work of how we will meet this changing future.
The speakers informed us about wildfires, changing precipitation, population shifts and more. Everyone there came with the intention of taking action for the future. Your local government leaders were there to learn and develop strategies with you. My hat is off to the organizing team who included councillor Val Warmington, Area E director Ramona Faust, Mel Reasoner and Jan Engels. I think this event gave us all hope that together we can make a difference. Well done.
In the past couple of months I’ve taken part in a variety of events and activities in this amazing city — the 82nd annual music festival honours concert, the Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting with over 150 business people present, the EcoSociety annual awards — just a few examples of the active and vibrant community we share. Thanks to all of you for making this a great place to live. And remember, what your council learns from you, we take forward to make a difference.
Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak shares this space weekly with her council colleagues.