Crown land acquisition debated

Crown land acquisition debated - as the mayor sees it

The day I, as the Mayor of the District of Barriere, start making decisions based on how to get re-elected in a few years rather than what is the right thing to do is the day I should quit. Since I have no intentions of quitting any decision I make and direction I give will only be based on what is the best course of action for the District.

To that end a few potential projects have had to be placed on hold for now. Some of these projects do have great potential. It is a perhaps a shame that they will need to wait. The hard reality is that there is very little funding available. As a result hard choices, perhaps unpopular choices need to be made.

The business of running the District is complicated. It requires thoughtful insight on the part of council and the mayor. There is no extra funding most times for favourite projects.

Last week I stated in this column that I was going to present to council a motion that would direct staff to start the procedures of applying to have all lands held by the Crown within the District brought under District ownership.

At the May 7th regular council meeting this issue was debated and the motion I made to direct District staff to start the transfer of ownership application process on each of the parcels was passed.

During the debate around this motion a few concerns were raised. It was stated that there was not enough information provided to council around the topic.

To provide notice of my intentions I sent a general information email to council with a copy to District staff outlining my intentions of putting the motion forward.

I then met with the District’s chief administrative officer and asked for her opinions and input. Ms. Hannigan then drafted a report around which lands were not owned by the District, which had infrastructure on them and provided an overview of the transfer process. In my opinion it was a well crafted report and provided all the information required to make an informed decision. I am not sure what more could have been done.

There has been an ongoing concern from some members of council around the mayor approaching groups outside the District to garner information on various topics and how best to achieve results. Yes, as the mayor, I did this.

These concerns seem to be centered on the possibility that I have been holding meetings and not inviting all of council. The answer to this is that I do not hold and never have held inappropriate meetings.

For example and with reference to the land transfer process, while attending a provincial roundtable on policing I had an opportunity to speak with First Nations representatives attending the roundtable during the lunch break.

Yes, I admit I asked for their input on best practices and their personal experiences as First Nations representatives around the land transfer process during what should have been their chance for a well deserved break from the discussions of the day.

It is possible I should apologize to those folks for disturbing their lunch with my questions. If they come forth with that request I will most certainly do so.

I do seek out those that have such rather specialized information and ask for that information to be shared. I also believe in fostering good relations with these individuals and indeed any group that The District will work with in the future. In fact as mayor it is my duty to do so. I am permitted to do this by myself as long as I do not inaccurately reflect the will of council.

I make it a practise to best utilize the time I spend with representatives from other levels of government, First Nations, business owners and investors and local residents. Everyone’s time is valuable and I respect that. I also appreciate that these groups and individuals are willing work with myself and council in the best interests of the District of Barriere.

I will be attending the first B.C. Mayors Caucus this coming week. There will be literally hundreds of years of governance experience at the meetings so it should be interesting and informative.