Council members off to annual local government convention

Have a long list of local issues to pursue

Four District of Houston councillors and the mayor are off to Vancouver for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention next week with a list of items requiring the attention of senior government members and companies.

Mayor Shane Brienen and councillors Tim Anderson, Tom Euverman, Lisa Makuk and Troy Reitsma want to address infrastructure, health care, mental health and addictions and social services issues among a list considered pressing for the community and area.

They’ll be meeting with provincial cabinet ministers and companies who are also attending the convention which is being held at the Vancouver Convention Centre Sept. 23-28.

The meeting list was being finalized this week but specific to Houston, council members want to talk to both CN and to provincial transportation minister Claire Trevena about better traffic entry and exit patterns at the North Nadina crossing and and upgrades at the Tweedie Avenue intersection and to CN itself about improvements to the Benson Ave. crossing.

A larger share of northwestern resource taxation through the Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance, a coalition of northwestern local governments, is also on council’s meeting list.

The prospect of expanding the Dungate Community Forest and increased efforts to safeguard communities through reducing potential wildfire fuels are planned subjects based on meeting with forests minister Doug Donaldson.

The council also wants to talk to advanced education minister Melanie Mark about the local Coast Mountain College campus and explore more adult education opportunities in the community.

Health issues also rank prominently with council wanting to pursue bed availability at Cottonwood Manor, recruiting healthcare professionals and needle exchange programs.

The district’s continuing efforts to improve Highway 16 through town and ongoing LED lighting conversions are on the list for a planned meeting with BC Hydro and provincial transportation ministry officials.

In addition to meeting with government and company officials, B.C. Liberal MLAs are also making themselves available to convention attendees.

Three B.C. Liberal sessions are planned to explore mental health, addiction and recovery, housing and transportation and jobs and affordability.

And Houston has one resolution council hopes is adopted by convention delegates — a call for ICBC to release more detailed information on the total value of premiums paid for insurance and the total value of claims settlements and payouts by postal code beginning in 2014.

That continues a campaign by former Telkwa mayor Darcy Repen who, through his own research and analysis, asserts motorists in northern and rural areas pay far more for ICBC insurance than what is paid in claims when compared to urban areas.

Based on his research just for the Telkwa area, Repen estimates households there are overpaying more than $1,800 a year for car insurance.

“In every case we’re basically paying double the premium of what an urban driver is,” he said in a story published earlier this year in the Smithers Interior News.

And Houston has one resolution council hopes is adopted by convention delegates — a call for ICBC to

any decision yet on who will be attending the UBCM convention? and I’ve lost track of resolutions. I think the only one pertains to ICBC rates for rural areas but unsure if there are any others …. Council had previously approved funding for all seven members to attend. At this time, we are anticipating Mayor Brienen and Councillors Anderson and Euverman will be forming the District’s UBCM delegation.

Thanks and apologies for the long list ….

Doing an update check on the UBCM convention ……

– Any additions to the delegation? Believe the mayor and councillors Anderson and Euverman are attending. Anyone else? Councillors Makuk and Reitsma will also be in attendance.

– Any update available as to scheduled meetings with provincial cabinet, etc.? There was a tentative list a couple of council meetings ago …. A staff report will be provided at the next Council meeting.

– And you said briefing materials are being prepared. Any of those available yet? Not at this time.

That is correct, there was only one resolution submitted for consideration at the convention by the broader UBCM Membership. In addition to this, we have requested meetings with the following Provincial Cabinet members to discuss the listed issues:

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