Civic politicians seek united front

Saanich councillors on hunt for innovative ideas at UBCM

Municipal politicians and staffers from around the province will congregate in downtown Victoria next week for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff, who has spent 19 years as a municipal politician, said the benefits of going to conferences like UBCM are evident in a variety of progressive approaches Saanich takes on different issues.

“When I go to these conferences I come back with ideas, and I’ll sit down with staff and say, ‘Can we go this way? Can we look this way? Can we address it?’” Brownoff said, pointing to the Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which spawned from a discussion she had at a conference.

“For me it’s a learning event, and it’s a way to connect with colleagues, and see if there’s something (another municipality) is doing that I can take back to Saanich that would be appropriate.”

Coun. Nichola Wade says she finds the resolution voting sessions “fascinating.”

“We’re used to representing Saanich’s interests. And then you hear from communities large and small, with completely different perspectives based on geography, based on size, based on their industries or their communities, and that’s amazing,” Wade said.

“It’s a great lever to create policy change at the provincial and federal government level; to have the community speak, once a resolution is passed, with one voice is pretty cool.”

The District of Saanich has two resolutions coming forward at UBCM.

The first is asking for the union to oppose any project “that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters.” The second is seeking an amendment to the Community Charter that would allow municipalities to send property tax notices by email.

“(It) is more efficient, economical and beneficial to the environment to deliver tax notices by email rather than regular mail,” the resolution reads.

Brownoff says she’s looking forward to attending a session on creative financing, and hopes to be able to take something from that talk back to Saanich to benefit taxpayers.

“There’s no question I come back better informed, feeling that I have contributed to moving forward very important policy items for the province,” added Wade.

Brownoff says the best part about the UBCM conference this year is it’s happening locally, which means there are no travel costs paid for from the municipal budget.

The UBCM conference runs Monday through Friday at the Victoria Conference Centre. See for more on the conference agenda.



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