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Wildfires, climate change, lessons, successes featured at Salmon Arm conference

200 delegates and guests expected in the Shuswap for Southern Interior local government gathering
Jesse Wente, keynote speaker at the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) AGM and Conference in Salmon Arm April 26-29, poses for a photograph in Toronto in 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Salmon Arm has been vacuuming up the dust bunnies and shaking out the rugs as it prepares to welcome about 200 guests to the community. 

The city will be hosting the 2022 SILGA conference and annual general meeting – or Southern Interior Local Government Association AGM, scheduled from Tuesday, April 26 to Friday, April 29. True to its name, SILGA is made up of representatives from municipalities and regional districts in the southern Interior.

Salmon Arm last hosted the SILGA conference in 2013, when former Canucks’ captain Trevor Linden was a featured speaker. That year, Salmon Arm Councillor Chad Eliason was the city’s SILGA representative. This year, Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond is filling that role.

“It is a great opportunity to highlight our community’s assets so there are many tours and activities planned,” she said, also pointing out the convention hears from the provincial government and communities’ representatives on the Union of BC Municipalities board.

“It’s a good prep for UBCM, in my view,” Wallace Richmond said, referring to the September conference when municipal politicians in B.C. have an opportunity to meet and mingle with provincial government ministers and staff. The three main days of the SILGA conference will include debates on resolutions, as well as round tables, keynote addresses and AGM business.

Keynote speaker this year is Jesse Wente with a talk entitled ‘Dreaming Our Future: Storytelling and Healing Our Way Forward.’ Wente is well-known for his two decades on CBC Radio and his bio described him as “an outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Métis and Inuit art.” Born and raised in Toronto, he is a member of the Serpent River First Nation. His first book, ‘Unreconciled: Family, Truth and Indigenous Resistance’ is a national bestseller.

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Thirty-two resolutions to be debated include one from Salmon Arm: ‘Increased provincial funding for rural RCMP services to reduce the financial burden on local municipalities,’ and one from Chase that includes requiring school districts to keep some school buses in summer months for evacuations if required.

Other resolution topics include: the order in which Interior roads are cleared in winter, from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen; amending the BC Building Code to allow local government to control light pollution, from Coldstream; and an alternative funding model to attract more family doctors to B.C. communities, from the District of Lake Country.

Resolutions approved will go to the UBCM for consideration at its September convention in Whistler.

Several break-out sessions at the SILGA conference are scheduled including: lessons learned from wildfire seasons in B.C.; climate change and health; the film industry; why radical advances are needed in community food system resiliency; a high-tech economic development business panel; and attainable housing.

Excellence awards will also be presented highlighting successful projects.

Several Salmon Arm attractions are listed in conference materials, such as the Innovation Centre and Zest Food Hub, Salmon Arm Art Gallery, a robotic dairy farm, Salmon Arm Golf Club, two cideries and lawn bowling.

Salmon Arm and area speakers listed on different panels include Serena Caner, Andrea Gunner and Brad DeMille on food system resiliency; Morgen Matheson on tourism and the film industry; Chad Shipmaker, Randy Spyksma and Reid Findlay on high tech economic development; Garnet Mierau on wildfire risk reduction; and Kevin Pearson on attainable housing.
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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