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UBCM passes P.G. motions

Three Prince-George resolutions passed at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria this week and one of the city's councillors took top spot on the provincial body.

Three Prince-George resolutions passed at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria this week and one of the city's councillors took top spot on the provincial body.

At the end of a long day, Mayor Lyn Hall rattled off a list of meetings the city had with four ministers and congratulated Murry Krause on his new position as UBCM president.

Hall headlined two events, including a popular session on the city's work cleaning up derelict properties, where he spoke to a standing-only crowd Wednesday.

"I think it resonated because... there isn't a community in B.C. that doesn't have this type of issue. We have old derelict buildings and it doesn't always mean downtown. We want to tidy that up," Hall said. "If we look at downtown we know that derelict buildings (and) graffiti is really a deterrent for people to invest in that area."

During his second presentation, Mayor Hall covered three main topics: politics, relationships, and funding, which summarized the recent roundtable he hosted in Prince George involving northern mayors and regional district Chairs. It was his message about being more active in telling the story about Northern BC’s contributions to the prosperity of BC that earned the most applause from attendees. - Credit: City of Prince George

Over the course of the week, the convention will consider more than 200 resolutions. Up first, Coun. Brian Skakun launched a call to reduce downloading of costs associated with DNA analysis by RCMP.

"It's a measure of its importance that it was listed as the very first resolution in the whole book," said Coun. Garth Frizzell.

"In the last year the provincial government notified municipalities would have to pay for cost of DNA analysis by RCMP. That came by surprise and it came after budgeting. It was really unfortunate timing and we fully disagree with their decision to do it and particularly without consultation."

Other resolutions pitching a province-wide poverty reduction plan and increase to gaming grants funding for non-profits also passed. Skakun said those issues deserved more attention, but were passed as a block.

"Some of those real, real important ones fly under the radar when ones like herring fisheries, old growth logging on the northern part of Vancouver Island seem to get the most traction at times as it's a little bit challenging but that's just the way it is," said Skakun.

UBCM voted to formally oppose old-growth logging Tuesday.

During the week, the city will speak with nine ministers, typically in short 15-minute meetings, as a way to lobby for local issues. With transportation minister Todd Stone, the group spoke about the Highway 16 corridor and the need for an Ospika connection, Skakun said.

Hall also highlighted a meeting with the technology minister Amrik Virk and the city's hope that the region could acquire broadband redundancy as an appeal to companies for investment.

Today, the group will meet with the Advanced Education minister Mike Bernier to push for a physiotherapy and engineering programs in the north, Hall added.

Frizzell and Skakun praised local MLA Shirley Bond for making the effort to attend all Prince George meetings on top of her own list of meetings with other municipalities.

"That's something that's a little different in Prince George," said Frizzell, adding a representative for MLA Mike Morris was there too.

"It was a very positive thing and we've felt that in the past three years that the relationship with the MLAs and MPs have been growing and getting better and better."

And with the addition of Krause as UBCM president, that should increase Prince George's connection to decision makers in the future, Frizzell said.

"It means we have direct access to our MLAs and elected officials here because when the premier or any of MLAs want to get a perspective on how the local government's view issues, the first place they'll go is UBCM."