A made-in-the-Shuswap resolution for the B.C. government to take ownership of abandoned rail corridors received unanimous support at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities convention.
During this annual gathering of local government representatives, held Sept. 22 to 26 in Whistler, Sicamous Coun. Terry Rysz presented the resolution that the province “facilitate public acquisition and ownership of abandoned transportation corridors,” and that the B.C. government work with UBCM to develop a funding mechanism such as a province-wide parcel tax, to help governments or community groups purchase and maintain corridors for public recreational use.
The resolution was prompted from a June 25 meeting between the mayors of Vernon, Armstrong, Sicamous, and representatives from Sicamous council, the Splatsin, the Columbia Shuswap and North Okanagan regional districts and the Shuswap Trail Alliance, where retention of the rail right of way between Sicamous and Armstrong was discussed. The result was a resolution by the District of Sicamous that originally called upon UBCM to become the owner of abandoned railways. This wording, however, was not supported by the UBCM executive, which resulted in a last-minute rewording, as well as some lobbying, with assistance by CSRD director and outgoing UBCM president Rhona Martin.
Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton said the amended resolution was approved by his fellow delegates without question.
“It should be a provincial initiative and it would be fabulous for international travellers,” said Trouton, adding the province’s support would also help preserve the abandoned corridors for possible future transportation needs.
Also successful was the district’s resolution to amend the Mines Act to require a permit applicant to confirm the proposed mining activity is in an area where it would be permitted under the local official community plan. This resolution, presented by Coun. Don Richardson, also received unanimous support.
Another highlight for the mayor was a meeting with Transportation Minister Todd Stone and discussion relating to the Bruhn Bridge. Prior to the meeting, Trouton said he received a phone call from the ministry and was told that a planning committee was being struck for the bridge.
At UBCM, Coun. Suzanne Carpenter attended several workshops, including one entitled Improving Health for Remote and Rural Communities. She says the take-away from this was that Sicamous has to be a driving force in marketing itself to attract doctors.
“When I say market I mean all aspects of the community from providing good schools, lots of recreational activity and access to the arts,” said Carpenter. “We need both provincial and local governments to help with the process and over and over again.”
One of the solutions offered at UBCM is to make it easier for doctors from other countries, or doctors educated outside of Canada, to work as a doctor.
“A resolution to have a voice on our health agencies was endorsed by UBCM,” said Carpenter.
Not running for re-election, Trouton says his presence at this year’s UBCM was no less important – and involved no less work – than in past years. He notes there is a need for consistency when it comes to lobbying the province.
“For example, the Bruhn Bridge stuff, even though we’ve got a planning committee, planning is one thing, implementation is another,” said Trouton. “We need to lobby as much as possible, and continue so this doesn’t get shuffled off and not prioritized. Because that happens. Just because we’re planning, that doesn’t mean it’s happening. You must continue to lobby.”