EDITORIAL: Council should have met ministers

One can understand the City of Vernon’s decision not to meet with provincial cabinet ministers while at UBCM, but...

One can understand the City of Vernon’s decision not to meet with provincial cabinet ministers while at this week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

They come one after the other and it’s likely the ministers get overwhelmed as they face a revolving door of civic leaders from across B.C. raising concerns or demanding money.

“It’s speed-dating here and there’s no evidence that quick meetings have any value,” said Rob Sawatzky, Vernon’s mayor.

“If you have an important issue, you meet separately so people have time to concentrate.”

Fair comment, but Sawatzky fails to mention that getting together with provincial cabinet ministers at another time comes with a price as mayors, councillors and the required staff support must travel to Victoria or Vancouver. That means flights, mileage and hotels.

The benefit of getting together with ministers at UBCM is those costs are already covered as council members are at the convention for other business.

On top of this, cabinet ministers are busy individuals and there is no guarantee that mayors and councillors will be able to access them at another time. Beyond the rapid-fire nature of the sessions, the provincial officials are already at UBCM and they make themselves available to their municipal and regional district counterparts.

Also, the UBCM sessions allow ministers to hear from all or more of a council instead of just the mayor. A variety of opinions can help foster sound decision-making.

While the city’s decision not to meet with ministers is understable, hopefully they will consider a different routine next year.