Vanderhoof councillor Brian Frenkel talks with outgoing Union of B.C. Municipalities president Maja Tait at the group’s first virtual conference, broadcast from Victoria, Sept. 22, 2020. (UBCM)

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

After guiding the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention through hundreds of debates and votes by a glitch-prone province-wide video conference, Vanderhoof councillor Brian Frenkel took on the leadership of the group for what promises to be a difficult year for local councils.

Frenkel succeeded Sooke Mayor Maja Tait as UBCM president Thursday (Sept. 24), with encouraging words for delegates after a convention disrupted by a sudden provincial election call on the event’s first day. The convention had already gone through a jump to online delivery due to COVID-19, and then the election disrupted its key function, hundreds of meetings with cabinet ministers who had to campaign for re-election instead.

Meetings with ministers were set up the previous week as part of the online arrangements for the convention.

“I have to tell you, when we started talking about a virtual convention back in May, I was like, who’s really going to sign up?” Frenkel said from an almost empty Victoria Conference Centre. “But I’ve got an answer for that today. We had over 1,000 delegates and local government officials sign up for our convention.”

Frenkel listed highlights of the first virtual convention, including provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s disclosure that she has dealt with harassment and even death threats while imposing orders and restrictions that have kept the coronavirus pandemic under control in B.C. He passed on a quote from author Margaret Atwood, the convention keynote speaker who had this advice for delegates: “Local government, you’d better get out your casseroles.”

RELATED: Dr. Bonnie Henry says she has had abuse, death threats

RELATED: B.C. Green leader says NDP has abandoned environment

Frenkel stressed the non-partisan role of the UBCM, which has increased its importance in recent years, administering provincial programs.

“As we fight our way through COVID-19 and any other issue that might arise in the future, I am very confident in UBCM’s relationship with the provincial government,” Frenkel said. “In just over a month, we will know which party will form government, and who our next premier will be. Regardless of which party or which leader, the executive of UBCM will reach out to all parties and all MLAs to communicate the shared priorities of our membership.”

He congratulated Tait on serving through a pandemic that has severely affected communities and businesses, while handling her community’s needs and those of a young child as well.

“I need to really thank the District of Vanderhoof, mayor and council and staff there, because without you still holding up the fort at home, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsUBCM

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read