Rhona Martin’s term as president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities ended with this year’s convention in September.
But that does not mean the longtime politician will be any less busy or enthusiastic.
Martin, who describes her time at the helm of UBCM as an amazing opportunity, will try for a 24th year as Area E Rural Sicamous director.
Of course I am still enthusiastic. Do I breathe?” she laughs. “I always wanted to try to improve things in the area and I continue to want to be there because it’s important to have the voice of rural B.C. involved at all levels.”
Martin, who has already submitted her papers, says there are still a number of regional district issues that continue to be a challenge.
“For many electoral area directors, the challenges are development and employment, something CSRD is attempting to address through Shuswap Economic Development and Shuswap Tourism,” she said.
Martin says the new four-year term is a long time, but adds that when she first entered politics the terms were only two years.
Along with the longer term, has come heavier workloads.
“When I was first elected, we got a package (of information) once a week and the odd phone call. I am still getting the package, but people are sending emails every day,” she says. “The workload has increased tremendously and there are great expectations from the electorate.”
It’s not just meeting once a month, she adds, noting there are committees both within and outside of CSRD and the workload has to be shared.
Another political requirement is learning to be a team player, she says, pointing to how successful teamwork at the hospital district has meant large improvements for hospitals in Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Vernon.
“You do have to take your share of the load as an electoral area director; it’s a team effort supported by good staff that makes sure we’re prepared and have the information needed to make a good decision.”
Martin says the biggest challenge during her UBCM presidency was trying to engage the province in a report that won unanimous approval of delegates to the 2013 convention.
The Strong Fiscal Futures Report finds challenges in the property tax system, says Martin, noting local governments believe there needs to be a different way to get funding for projects.
“We recognize the province requires a certain amount of dollars to provide services and we recognize that each year there is an increase,” she says. “What our report suggests is that in the years when there is more (money collected) than the increase, they share it with local governments to take the burden off local taxpayers.”
A highlight of this year’s convention for Martin, was the announcement of the establishment of a Rural Advisory Council
While she is not sure it’s a direct result, Martin says the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition and two other provincial coalitions worked very hard to create a value-added strategy for wood.
“What we see is small enterprises employ more people per cubic metre and get greater value per cubic metre sometimes, and we would like to see policy changes that would address some of these concerns,” she says. “They will be looking at things through a rural lens.”
As past UBCM president, Martin will support the incoming president, will be appointed to committees and will be the person in charge of the nominations process for elections next year.
And, with the regional district’s approval, Martin will continue her work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities by serving on a number of committees.