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NCLGA convention gets underway in Fort St. John

Topics on the agenda this year include healthcare, housing, food security, forestry, truth and reconciliation, and policing.

The annual meeting of the North Central Local Government Association is underway in Fort St. John, featuring three days of policy workshops and panel discussions, strategic planning, and a keynote speech tonight from former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The NCLGA convention is the largest meeting of politicians from across northern and central B.C., and the first in-person gathering since 2019.

“This is where we actually get the rubber on the road, and we actually initiate climate-changing projects,” said Mayor Lori Ackerman in welcoming delegates from 39 different local governments to Fort St. John Wednesday morning, and who were yesterday treated to tours of Site C, the new RCMP station, and the Tse’k’wa national historic site at Charlie Lake.

Topics on the NCLGA’s agenda this year include healthcare, housing, food security, forestry, truth and reconciliation, and policing. Wilson-Raybould, a lawyer and former federal MP for Vancouver Granville, will give her keynote Wednesday night, speaking about aboriginal rights and reconciliation, democracy and governance, leadership, and justice.

Outgoing president Cori Ramsay, a city councillor from Prince George, highlighted the work of the NCLGA over the last year, among them healthcare research, solid waste strategy, advocating for emerging issues such as the Barkerville Heritage Trust and retroactive pay for RCMP members, as well as the policy resolutions brought forward by member governments, some of which go on to become lobbying priorities of the Union of B.C. Municipalities to the province.

“We bring with us authentic stories so that we can showcase why the resolution is a priority, how it might negatively impact our communities, or how we can work together to make something better,” Ramsay told delegates.

Among the key resolutions being brought to this year’s policy plenary session are:

  • That the province increase the annual budgeted figure for road and bridge rehabilitation (from NCLGA Executive);

  • That the province not extend the application of the PST on used item sales (from NCLGA Executive);

  • That the province retain the existing number of MLAs representing the Peace Region in any review by the B.C Electoral Boundaries commission, given the region’s distances and adverse weather conditions (District of Chetwynd, City of Dawson Creek);

  • That the province amend the Child Care Licensing Regulation to accommodate extended hour child care to support shift workers and their families (City of Fort St. John);

  • That the province provide funding for increased wages and training opportunities to assist with the recruiting and retention of paramedics (District of Chetwynd);

  • That the province develop guidelines as to what constitutes "the public interest" with respect to pursuing charges for criminal offences and prolific offenders (City of Terrace, City of Campbell River);

  • That the province and federal government invest $5 million annually in public earth science research, and to work to establish a sustainable long-term funding model for Geoscience BC (City of Fort St. John);

  • That the province provide long-term sustainable funding for public libraries and for public libraries to receive regular increases to provincial government funding (Town of Smithers, Village of Burns Lake, City of Prince George); 

  • That the province further support improved local medical services to meet the needs of all rural British Columbians in their own communities (District of Houston);

  • That the province provide funding to train 40 veterinary students to address a critical shortage of vets in B.C. (Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako);

  • That the province increase support and funding for mental health, including a place to properly discharge patients to access ongoing supports (City of Williams Lake);

  • That the province correct regional ICBC coverage inequities, consider winter tire subsidies, and eliminate windshield deductibles (from Town of Smithers/City of Williams Lake/City of Fort St. John).

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