Officials look to make progress on regional transit and child care after flood mitigation funding
Representatives from the Village of Pemberton (VOP) and the Regional District of Squamish-Lillooet (SLRD) are setting their priorities ahead of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention next month.
Near the top of this list is regional transit.
“This has definitely been a problem for the corridor for years, and especially since the end of Greyhound service,” said SLRD board chair Jen Ford (who will also be acclaimed as senior vice president of UBCM during the 2021 convention, which is expected to take place virtually from 14 to 17).
After years of stalled progress and rejected funding proposals, Sea to Sky municipalities this time around expect an increased level of commitment from the provincial government, Ford said, after the first Minister John Horgan quashed the writ and called an election on the first day of last year. UBCM Congress.
The game changer? The NDP government’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming have now enshrined regional transit in their mandate letters, especially for the Sea to Sky corridor, Ford said.
“This is our first time in front of the new ministers,” she said. “Of course with COVID and all the other things we’ve had to focus on over the past year or so, regional transport hasn’t been pushed very aggressively, not for lack of desire, but simply [because of] many, many other priorities. So this is sort of our first opportunity to work with departments and understand how we can work together. “
Sea to Sky municipalities “are going to go back and hopefully have a very constructive meeting,” agreed Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman.
The two local governments each have a long list of other issues that they also hope to address during the four-day convention. For Pemberton, an important item on the agenda again this year is child care.
“We’re always knocking on that door,” Richman said.
Although the municipality still has an application currently under consideration for the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, Pemberton remains hampered by the province’s criteria requiring construction costs to remain below $ 40,000 per child care space.
With outrageous costs for land, buildings, and natural disaster mitigation, “there are a lot of construction costs and costs possibly higher than the average community,” Richman said. “Even though we have sharpened our pencils and tried very hard, there is no way we can adapt. [the building application] under that number of $ 40,000.
The VOP has partnered with the District of Squamish to request a meeting with ministers to discuss funding options, given the similar challenges the two municipalities face. Pemberton also presented a resolution upstairs at UBCM asking departments to work together to come up with additional funding options for child care, Richman said.
Amid the increase in backcountry tourism, the VOP also introduced a resolution calling for more funding and resources to support natural assets like recreation sites and parks. Additionally, Pemberton officials plan to advocate for maintaining or increasing levels of ambulance service at this year’s UBCM convention, following the announcement of health services from BC emergency earlier this year they plan to switch Pemberton to a scheduled call service model, potentially increasing response times.
The SLRD, meanwhile, will continue its efforts to have the province recognize broadband internet access as an essential service for remote areas, and has also called for a meeting to advocate for a provincial ban on the sale of broadband. ‘invasive plant species throughout the corridor – “a great threat to our farmland,” Ford noted, after introducing a resolution on the issue in 2017. At the time, retailers were urged to stop selling the species on a voluntary basis.
But “it didn’t work,” Ford said. “So we are asking the province to be a little firmer.”
SLRD is also seeking provincial support to implement an Extended Producer Responsibility policy for items such as RVs, RVs and trailers, which are currently dumped illegally – particularly in Zone A – or otherwise end up in landfills, Ford said. Ideally, this would work the same as policies that already exist for products like mattresses, aluminum bottles and cans, she explained.
On a positive note, local governments are heading towards this year’s convention with their newly strengthened emergency preparedness budgets. The provincial government announced this week that Pemberton, Lil’wat Nation, SLRD and Whistler are among 38 communities in British Columbia that have received funding for flood planning through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. administered by UBCM.
Lil’wat Nation and the Village of Pemberton each receive $ 120,000 for flood mitigation, while SLRD will receive $ 99,500 for Ryan River modeling and floodplain mapping. Whistler has received approval for funding of $ 147,400 for Alta Creek flood mitigation.