City resolution passed over at UBCM

The city's call for more-stringent federal action in accommodating Syrian refugees didn't make it to the debate floor at the annual gathering of municipal politicians.

An emergency resolution sponsored by Prince George city council was submitted last week to the Union of B.C. Municipalities's convention, held this week in Vancouver. But a similar resolution sponsored by the Whistler local government was also submitted and ultimately selected by the UBCM resolution committee.

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While happy to see the issue being addressed on the convention floor, Coun. Brian Skakun said he was a little disappointed the committee passed over the city's submission.

"(Whistler's) in my opinion was quite a bit more watered down and holds the federal government, whoever that's going to be, way less accountable," Skakun said.

The resolution - which was approved by convention delegates on Friday morning - calls for the federal government to "accelerate the process and to significantly increase federal commitments to receive Syrian refugees in Canada matching or exceeding historic levels."

The Prince George resolution wanted the federal government to "review and implement significant increases and expedited processing times for its humanitarian aid and resettlement commitments" as well as for the government to regularly report out on its progress to the public.

Additionally, the resolution asked the federal government to partner with the United Nations or other humanitarian organizations to address the needs of Syrians inside Syria and to reach out to local governments and other community groups that want to help with relocation efforts.

The Prince George resolution was drafted with the help of city and UBCM staff, Skakun said.

"But at least the important thing is there was one resolution that was submitted to deal with the Syrian refugee issue, so I think that's important regardless of the work Prince George did on ours," he said.

Among the numerous policy-setting decisions made during the week, UBCM delegates endorsed a North Central Local Government Association request for an intergovernmental task force to study the necessary steps needed to erase rape culture in Canada.

Local government officials also narrowly voted in favour of a North Saanich-backed request for the province to eliminate the Auditor General for Local Government.

Delegates turned down an idea to push the province to increase the carbon tax by $5 per year once the freeze on the tax ends in 2018 but they supported a request for the province to add a method for recalling local government elected officials to the Community Charter.

Resolutions looking for local government authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and pushing for a national inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women were also supported.

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