Not only do Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors have ideas of what to bring up at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities this week, they have a script.
At the suggestion of CSRD board chair Dave Raven, CAO Charles Hamilton prepared a list of seven key issues directors might wish to raise with provincial officials and other delegates.
Hamilton’s top-seven list separates the issues into two categories – cross-regional and sub-regional.
In the cross-regional category, Hamilton noted rural policing, flood protection and mitigation, the Trans-Canada Highway and funding for critical infrastructure such as water and sewers.
Number one on the cross-regional list, the adequacy of rural police resources has been raised at the board for several years.
In February, the board passed a resolution to send to SILGA (Southern Interior Local Government Association) calling for the province to review its police resourcing model to better serve rural areas.
SILGA endorsed the resolution, which will be raised at this week’s UBCM Convention.
In terms of flood protection and mitigation, Hamilton noted the regional district is currently seeking a legal opinion as to whether provincial legislation requires CSRD to undertake responsibility.
“In the aftermath of the recent flooding in Sicamous and Swansea Point area, various provincial officials have indicated that the local authority is responsible for carrying out flood protection and mitigation works,” Hamilton wrote. “This position is contrary to Board Policy W-5 which states, among other things, that the regional district will not respond to flooding incidents.”
Next on the list, Hamilton outlined the long history of funding appeals for the Trans-Canada Highway and the need to four-lane the corridor between Sorrento and Golden.
“Improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway will provide a safer and more efficient journey for all travellers and a competitive corridor for the east-west movement of goods to ports,” he wrote.
Hamilton also reminded directors that the current level of investment in municipal and community infrastructure does not enable municipalities and regional districts to address deteriorating or obsolete infrastructure.
He notes that gas tax revenue is simply insufficient to fund new, large-scale capital projects such as upgrading abandoned water systems or implementing approved liquid-waste management plans.
Of the remaining three issues, only one in the sub-regional category is cause for local concern – senior government downsizing and insufficient resources to deliver mandates and better enforcement tools on area lakes.
“Staffing cutbacks in federal and provincial agencies such as DFO, Transport Canada, Water Stewardship and ILMB (Integrated Land Management Bureau) are having a profound effect on the ability of governments generally to enforce regulations,” wrote Hamilton, noting all three levels of government have some form of legal jurisdiction over lakes, rivers and streams.
And while senior governments have stronger legislation and regulations to compel compliance, they do not have adequate staffing to follow up on violations such as illegal docks and buoys ignoring riparian area regulations, harming fish habitat, etc., says Hamilton.
“As a result, residents turn to the regional district to take enforcement action, even though in most instances we do not have the legal authority to impose effective remedies,” he wrote. “We cannot simply remove a buoy or dock that was installed illegally, whereas the federal and provincial government could do so if they chose.”