AVICC at the 2023 UBCM Convention
The AVICC Executive and staff enjoyed the opportunity to connect with AVICC Members at the 2023 UBCM Convention, September 18-22 in Vancouver. UBCM Members attended educational sessions, networking events, resolutions sessions, and countless Minister meetings. We appreciate the efforts of AVICC members to advocate to the Province on behalf of our communities.
Thank you to those who attended the AVICC Luncheon, where Premier David Eby attended and addressed our delegates. This was an opportunity for AVICC to take 15 minutes with the Premier, to have a Q & A period, and to discuss some of the issues of importance to our members. The AVICC Executive provided their feedback on the development of this session, and President Cote asked questions relating to the status of the modernization of the Local Government Act and about housing in all BC communities, including the many rural, remote and recreational areas in the AVICC region.
Premier Eby acknowledged that these are issues of great importance to AVICC and all UBCM Members. He admitted that reforming the Local Government Act has not recently been a provincial priority and recognized the importance of ensuring that all local government in the Province have the authority to provide essential services to their residents. Premier Eby also acknowledged that the Province’s housing shortage issues impacted all communities in BC, and that the Province was committed to supporting local government in their efforts to create more affordable, long-term housing. The AVICC Executive is grateful for Premier Eby’s attendance and engagement with our members.
Three of the Regional Resolutions endorsed at the 2023 AVICC AGM & Convention were also the subject of Minister meetings at the 2023 UBCM Convention.
AVICC was granted one meeting with Parliamentary Secretary for Watershed Restoration, Finn Donnelly on the topics conveyed in R3, on the matter of Watershed Security Strategy and Funding, sponsored by the Village of Cumberland, and R4, on the matter of E&N Land Grant Biodiversity and Restoration, sponsored by the Regional District of Nanaimo. This meeting was attended by representatives of the AVICC Executive, the sponsors of both Regional Resolutions and MLAs Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo), and Adam Walker (Parksville-Qualicum).
Parliamentary Secretary Donnelly acknowledged the importance of watershed protection, and commented on the unique challenges faced by communities that rely on unprotected privately managed lands for potable water. The Province is finalizing policy that addresses the issues of watershed security, and a Watershed Strategy Engagement “What we Heard” report will be available by the end of 2023. Local governments were encouraged to connect with their Indigenous neighbours to collaborate where possible, and to be prepared to apply for funding once it becomes available. Members of the AVICC Executive also attended an additional meeting confirmed by the Village of Cumberland with Hon Nathan Cullen, Minister of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship to convey Regional Resolution R3.
For Regional Resolution R5, on the matter of Recapitalization of Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET), sponsored by the Capital Regional District, several AVICC member local governments met with Minister Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation across 11 separate meetings, and AVICC Executive members attended two, on request of the members. Many of the meetings included delegations of multiple local governments, and the Trust’s CEO. During these meetings, elected leaders expressed appreciation for the Minister’s commitment to providing $10 million to each economic trust in BC this fall and affirmed consensus support and need for investment of at least $150 million to transform the region’s only Trust into a financially sustainable regional development organization that is co-governed by First Nations and local governments in partnership with the Province.
In addition, Cowichan Valley Regional District Chair Aaron Stone met with Premier Eby in his role as an AVICC member, on behalf of the membership’s endorsed Regional Resolution R5. At the meeting with Premier Eby, Chair Stone provided the Premier with a letter from AVICC President Penny Cote and a letter on behalf of the 35 local government Mayors and Chairs formally requesting a meeting with the Premier this fall, confirming that elected leadership remains steadfast in their belief that the full transformation of ICET is a top priority for the region.