Representing the Cowichan Lake area at Halifax conference

I’ve slipped away from a very busy schedule on a glorious Sunday afternoon, to report to everyone at home about the work this local elected official has been doing during this hectic week at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Halifax.

I’ve slipped away from a very busy schedule on a glorious Sunday afternoon, to report to everyone at home about the work this local elected official has been doing during this hectic week at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Halifax.

I understand many of you may think this is a junket where politicians get away to relax on the taxpayer’s dime. I have worked tirelessly to ensure that each of us has received good value for our tax dollar and have personally paid for my family’s travel and related expenses (my wife Brenda and daughter Rhianon have joined me).

The time difference [4 hours], jet lag, and more than eight hours a day in hard convention seats, isn’t my idea of a holiday, yet I would do it again for the benefit of the information and knowledge gained, and for helping me to serve you better as your area Director.

The federation is making great strides in improving local government’s relationship with the Federal Government. Municipalities and Regional Districts are considered creations of the provincial government, not the federal government. When the federal government announced sweeping changes to wastewater regulations, it was the federation that pointed out the cost to some homeowners could be almost $1000/year, and convinced the government to phase in the regulations. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities also persuaded the government to provide phased funding to match the phased regulations, bringing some much needed relief to already highly taxed property owners.

The conference also had keynote speeches from notable guests such as Jack Layton, Leader of the Opposition, Bob Rae, Liberal Party interim Leader, Denis Lebel, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities, and Elizabeth May, MP and Leader of the Green Party.

There were study sessions on topics ranging from water systems and wastewater treatment, to public/private partnerships on Brownfield clean up, to recycling programs and dealing with climate change, to name just a few.

One benefit of these conferences is the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with other elected officials, from all across this country.

It is important to know that we already have some programs in place that other jurisdictions are just now considering.

Yet, what is even more important is, that I can learn what others are doing in their communities, and bring that home to the Cowichan Valley and incorporate that knowledge into serving the community I was elected to represent.

One example of a lesson learned was the result of a question I posed to another keynote speaker  Nik Nanos, of CTV/Globe and Mail polling fame. He was speaking about engaging the voter and other constituents. I asked him “How are we to engage the many taxpaying property owners who may not be full-time residents, such as snowbirds, or owners of seasonal properties in rural, recreational areas?”

He  suggested that we should be using new tools, such as the internet, Twitter, Facebook and other new social media. Traditional media such as newspaper ads and mail are experiencing a decline in effectiveness. Many times people have said to me “I must have missed that notice!” This tied in perfectly with the study session on “How to use Social Media in your Municipality,” hosted by the new Mayor of Calgary. We may not be the size of Calgary or even have much at all in common with any city that size. Yet, I felt the lessons I learned were really quite valuable, and hopefully will lead to improved communication between the CVRD and our community it serves.

The overall benefit of conferences like this, are realized when the lessons learned are put into practical use. I continue to respond to your phone calls and e-mails and write the occasional column in the paper. I hope that we will soon be able to connect with each other using some of the new media tools available to us. I just may have to ask my daughter for help.

Just Posted

Valley superintendent helps shape future of worldwide education

An acknowledged expert in the field, Rod Allen is now sharing Cowichan’s successful ideas globally

City of Duncan asked to help homeless with warming station at McAdam Park as weather turns colder

City considers setting up daytime warming centre at McAdams Park

North Cowichan reaches deal with its municipal workers

Talks contunie with the City of Duncan and CVRD

Editorial: Carbon offset money should go to real green projects

We understand the principles of the carbon marketplace and believe it can be a good thing.

VIDEO: Christmas season starts with Honeymoon Bay craft fair.

Popular craft fair draws lots of vendors, customers.

Coffee time: Donations and thank yous

• When you eat cookies they tend to make you smile, and… Continue reading

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Stay safe on B.C. roads this holiday season

RCMP warn drivers to plan a safe ride home or suffer the consequences this holiday season

Trudeau apologizes to excluded residential school students

PM makes statement to former students in Nfld who were left out of previous compensation, apology

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

Most Read