Referendum will be considered by council to help fund projects

As The Mayor Sees It with District of Barriere MAyor Bill Humphreys

Last week as the chair of the TNRD I was in Victoria, along with Mr. Gill the CAO of the TNRD, to attend the annual Regional District Chairs and Chief Administrative Officers forum.

The forum is organized through the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The agenda provides a number of speakers on current topics and there is a chance for the various regional districts in B.C. to gather and share best practices and problems of a mutual concern.

It is amazing how some of the issues affect all of the various regions in the province. Things like the E911 program will have an impact on all the areas of B.C., particularly rural ones like ours. The costs involved are immense and the methods to gather the funding for the next generation of the 911 service are complex.

The technology must be designed to be resilient and redundant when a major disaster occurs. This in itself is no small feat, let alone making the system able to be used in even the most remote areas of the province.

Heaven forbid a major disaster should happen, but in case it does all components of the recovery plan must work. As you can imagine, the 911 reporting system would be integral to that plan.

The agenda also included speakers on the Multi Materials B.C. (MMBC) program and the proposed Water Sustainability legislation. From all accounts the MMBC program is having what only can be described as growing pains even before it gets launched. The program is a complex and ambitious effort aimed at improving the way we deal with recyclables. I will reserve comment on how well things are going until they get back to us, which to date they have not. Some things take time though, and one must be patient.

The legislation around water, and providing a plan for management and sustainability of the resource across B.C. is also incredibly complex, and not without some critics. It is very easy to point out any shortfalls in this type of legislation. As usual that group is very vocal.

I would rather be in the group where the solutions are found. No pun intended. There is not an unlimited amount of clean water on our planet. We must do our best to improve how we use the resource in not only a local sense, but strive to think globally. This must be done to benefit our generations in the future.

Here in Barriere we are doing our level best to make sure what we take out of the aquifer is returned in a usable state. Our wastewater reclamation plant is designed to treat septage and sewer effluent, and return the outflow to the aquifer in as pure a state as is possible. We have also kept pace with the best practices available to reduce water consumption and improved recycling programs.

We also attended the Municipal Finance Authority of BC (MFA) annual financial forum. There were presentations from Deputy Minister Denlinger of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and Douglas Porter, Chief Economist BMO Capital Markets.

From all accounts it appears the province is in good shape financially and the MFA has solid plans in place to guarantee local governments low cost financing for needed projects.

We have a number of ongoing and future projects here in Barriere. Some of them are being paid for with current funding, and others will need to be funded through a combination of grants and local capital. We have been putting together self ready projects that will qualify for grants, and have been preparing for the announcement of funding programs.

On that note the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) just sent out details around the Infrastructure Canada announcement of the details of the New Building Canada Fund. Council has indicated that they wish to go ahead with an application for funding and the related referendum that will be needed. Those discussions will most likely happen at Council meetings on April 7.

As I have said before, everyone should get the facts before they make up their minds. It is a fact of life that sometimes things need to be repaired, replaced and improved. It all costs money.