On the final day of the 2021 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, three concurrent town hall meetings took place, in which members of local government were provided a chance to direct questions to panels of ministers from the Provincial legislative assembly.
The entire convention was held online, with the panels being on zoom answering questions that were sent from delegates who were watching via an online portal. Among those present at the town halls were Village of Burns Lake Councillor Charlie Rensby and Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Director Michael Riis-Christianson.
Mayor of Burns Lake Dolores Funk was not present at the town hall, however she told Lakes District News that she brought up her concerns in separate meetings with B.C. ministers. According to Funk, most of the meetings between her and the ministers took place during the week of Sept. 6 —10, as well as one on Sept. 20.
Several topics were addressed in the three meetings one of them being the pandemic recovery and resilience of communities. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming stated in the meeting that B.C. has had the highest economic recovery rate of any province in the country, and the province intends to keep the recovery moving forward.
Decisions on old-growth logging were a major talking point throughout the week-long convention. A vote occurred on Sept. 15, in which delegates voted 62 per cent in favour of the executive’s motion, over the objections of those demanding sweeping logging bans.
Councillor Rensby noted that most Interior forests are a fire-based ecosystem where stands don’t typically last longer than 160 years. The province’s official definition of old growth is 250 years on the coast and 140 years in the Interior.
“To say that there should be blanket bans on old-growth forest logging in the entire province is absolutely ridiculous,” Rensby said.
Other major topics were reducing greenhouse gasses, responding to tech change, adapting to climate change, providing affordable housing in communities and modernizing and creating affordable housing for communities.
Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby said in one of the meetings that affordable housing construction was part of the provinces three year $26.4 billion budget plan. He also mentioned that the province is spending $550 million on indigenous housing both on an off reserves; something the provincial government has taken initiative with after being dissatisfied with the federal governments handling of the issue.
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