Prince George city councilor Garth Frizzell is the newly-elected president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
The FCM is the national voice of municipal government and it includes 2,050 municipalities in the nation from the largest city in Canada to the smallest, Frizzell said.
"Right now each of those municipalities is dealing with the affects of the pandemic and feel that in everything from budgeting, to the amplification of problems like housing and the opioid crisis," Frizzell said. "It's a real year-long series of challenges that's been compressed into the last six months and while the federal government and some of the provincial and territorial governments have already come forward with support we're not sure how long it's going to last and what kind of impact it's going to have."
Frizzell said the FCM will be doubling down on its efforts throughout Canada to provide programs and support that municipalities need.
"We have a wide range of communities with different needs in Canada," Frizzell said.
The rural forum within the FCM has been very strong in its advocacy and had an impact on the recent announcements about broadband improvements in rural areas.
"Those improvements came out of direct recommendations that the rural forum has put together for the federal government and it reflects how broadband was really critical before and how it's become ever more important since the pandemic began," Frizzell said.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has the responsibility to communicate the needs of communities of all sizes to the federal government, he added.
Frizzell has been a Prince George city councilor since 2008 and has sat on the board of directors for the FCM since 2009. He also chairs the city's finance and audit committee.
Frizzell interest in the FCM was piqued as he was looking to make an impact during his time as a newly-elected city councilor in 2008. When he went down to the annual conference during his first year as a city councilor and heard about what the FCM did, he knew the direction he wanted to take.
"I saw all these municipal people coming together from all over and talking about issues and it was a big eye opener," Frizzell said.
There were problems many communities had in common like infrastructure and they came together to address those issues.
"To get 2,000 elected officials in a room to come together about an issue, it was stunning," Frizzell said.
Frizzell said the FCM played an important part in developing the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government which resulted in $7.6 billion issued over the last six to eight months to municipalities in need.
"It was a quick response to some really significant needs," Frizzell said. "It's well known that right here in Prince George we were losing $1 million a month in revenues and that's just not here that's in every municipality across Canada."
The FCM was able to gather information and present it to government to get the help the country needed quickly, Frizzell said.
"It's a really impactful organization," he added. "It's one of the few advocacy groups that has membership in every riding in Canada and it's very effective in letting the government know exactly where the challenges lie and often gives advice on how to resolve those challenges."
The official announcement of Frizzell being president of the FCM will be made during Monday's city council meeting.