Todd York and his fellow Spallumcheen councillors are used to dealing with senior levels of government in a formal, written manner.
That’s why the longtime councillor enjoys going to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention each year.
York was joined by colleagues Christine Fraser, Joe Van Tienhoven and Ed Hanoski, Mayor Janice Brown and chief administrative officer Corey Paiement at the 2016 conventional late last month in Victoria.
“I like the opportunity that is afforded to sit with government ministers and staffs and look them face-to-face and ask questions that are somewhat off the cuff,” said York.
“You can gauge their responses by their body language, attitudes or certain things that are said, and you can walk away with confidence you’re on the right track or the feeling that going in another direction might be necessary.”
Township representatives met with a number of ministries and staffs in head-to-head meetings to discuss matters pertinent to Spallumcheen.
They also use the opportunity to attend seminars and deal with fellow politiicans.
“The networking at UBCM is really big,” said Fraser, adding she was surprised by how many people at this year’s convention, compared to years past, knew where the township was located.
That’s due in part to the publicity garnered over the ongoing water quality issue with a local aquifer.
“So many communities have their own issues and are trying to get things resolved,” said Fraser.
Van Tienhoven attended a workshop on wildfire preparedness as the township is preparing its own emergency management program bylaw.
“Small towns with fewer than 25,000 citizens are two-and-a-half times more prone to disasters than a large city,” said Van Tienhoven, who used the Fort McMurray wildfire this year as an example.
“It became the most expensive fire disaster in Canadian history: $3.5 billion in insurance claims and $615 million in response costs.”
Ed Hanoski took part in an agricultural tour in and around Greater Victoria. The tour included a stop at a local fishery, located right in the heart of a Victoria residential neighbourhood.
“I found that very interesting,” he said. “It’s a place where they process seafood and there were no excessive smells.”
Brown took part in the mayors’ caucus, deliberating topics like policing and small business.
“It’s always a pleasure to take a strong team to UBCM,” said Brown. “It was a bit busier than normal this year, but just such a neat place to spend our time.”