A full schedule of events awaits local and regional delegates attending this year's Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver, which starts today.
"It will be a busy time," said Coun. Murry Krause, who sits on the UBCM executive as a director at large. "I'm pleased there's quite a number of our council that will be present and I think it's really important to acknowledge that this is an opportunity for local governments to get together and really look at best practices from elsewhere as well."
In addition to the official annual general meeting business, the mayor, councillors and regional district directors have the opportunity to network with other local and provincial government officials.
Prince George delegates have meetings set up with Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton.
The meeting with Anton will be key, said Mayor Shari Green, given that northern B.C. had five of the country's top 15 cities on the Crime Severity Index.
"So this is not a Prince George problem, this a northern B.C. problem and a B.C. problem," Green said. "So I need her to see what we're doing here on the ground in terms of the crime task force."
Regional District of Fraser-Fort George directors also have ministerial meetings lined up.
They're going to discuss rural sustainability with Premier Christy Clark, Bennett and Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Coralee Oakes, said RDFFG board chair Art Kaehn.
Some topics of discussion will include the difficulty of maintaining fire departments and the cost of sewer and water in communities with small tax bases. Hydro issues will also be broached, with some RDFFG communities challenged with black outs.
"If you don't have stable power it's hard to stabilize a community and also encourage economic development and heavy industry," said Kaehn.
A meeting with Coleman will be used to talk about potential benefits from liquified natural gas projects, outside of property tax gains from where proposed pipelines run through the region.
"What other benefits might accrue to this part of the world in terms of employment, skills training, training - just the different things that could spin out of the project," Kaehn said.
Meetings are also scheduled with Environment Minister Mary Polak to talk about stewardship programs, Rustad to talk about the off-reserve action plan, and with the agricultural land commission to discuss where the regional district fits in with their new mandate.
Prior to the convention's official start on Wednesday, Green will attend the B.C. Mayors' Caucus meeting on Monday afternoon. The Prince George mayor sits on the group's steering committee.
Krause will head a pre-conference session looking at local government and First Nations relations on Monday and participate in a Tuesday forum on B.C.'s off-reserve aboriginal action plan.
This week is also national reconciliation week, so Krause said those issues will be a major theme during the conference.
This year, UBCM delegates will be discussing and voting to endorse a comprehensive policy paper on local government finance, which Green said she's more focused on.
"It's a great piece of work that's been done by some pretty well-respected elected officials from around the province and it's all with respect to ensuring we have a strong fiscal future as local government," she explained.
The paper highlights the difficult for local governments having to depend on property taxes, "which are less responsive to economic change" and "distribute costs unfairly across income groups."
Five "key directions for change" are offered in the document after the committee responsible evaluated the current system and compared it with other jurisdictions.
Coun. Dave Wilbur, who represents Prince George on the North Central Local Government Association, said he will be looking at rail safety and infrastructure issues while in Vancouver this year.
And during the ministerial meetings, Wilbur said he will be raising concerns about roads, which he said haven't been built for the influx of trucks and heavy equipment expected with resource development.
"I'm concerned that the province, although aware of the problem, doesn't really have a game plan to address it in a timely way," Wilbur said.
Speakers at the conference include Clark, Oakes, B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix, Green MLA Andrew Weaver and senior regional federal minister for B.C. James Moore. Former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis will give the keynote address on Wednesday.