SLRD, Pemberton satisfied with productive UBCM 

Convention offers valuable advocacy opportunities

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - productive meetings The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Village of Pemberton talk benefits of UBCM.
  • file photo
  • productive meetings The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Village of Pemberton talk benefits of UBCM.

At last week's annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention, two resolutions put forward by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) were passed.

The resolutions — concerning Provincial Responsibility for Fire Services and a Road Safety Review and Assessment — will now be added to the UBCM's list of advocacy items to take to the province.

SLRD chair Jack Crompton said he personally spoke to the fire services resolution, which asks the provincial government to continue to cover the costs involved with inspecting and enforcing fire safety regulations.

"No one spoke against the resolution, and so it was voted on and passed unanimously," Crompton said.

"Our regional district team was really enthusiastic about it passing."

This year's UBCM was very much a regional effort, Crompton said.

"It was exciting to work with the full corridor and the full region on some shared efforts, primarily around roads and the importance of roads to our tourism economy," he said.

The SLRD was also able to broach the topic of roads and tourism in a meeting with B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

"We went though the Sea to Sky highway, talked about the pressure that's on it right now and how there's increasing congestion on (it), especially on weekends," Crompton said.

"We then talked about cycling and the importance of cycling lanes in this region, and how cycling is becoming a major piece of the tourism puzzle, and asked them to invest in cycling lanes along the Sea to Sky highway, primarily between Whistler and Pemberton."

Crompton said the meeting also involved discussions of a regional tourism route that would go from Vancouver through Pemberton, up the Duffey Lake Road and possibly down to Kamloops.

"(We) emphasized how important it is that the roads up there be safe if we're going to continue to send tourists up through Lillooet," he said. "Really, the focus of a lot of that conversation with the premier was just to say 'Listen, our roads are one of our primary tools to be a successful tourism region.'"

While the premier hears from a lot of mayors and councils during UBCM, Crompton said he felt like Clark was listening.

"There was information that was new to her, and there was conversation between her and her staff about making sure that they follow up," he said.

"I left feeling like we'd been heard and that she was going to act on some of the things that she had heard."

While the Village of Pemberton didn't put forward any resolutions of its own, Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman said the convention is always beneficial.

"It gives you an opportunity to bring issues and challenges from a smaller community like ours forward to somebody like the minister of transportation," Richman said.

In the meeting with transportation minister Todd Stone, Richman said the discussion focused on small, achievable goals for the community.

"So looking at our crosswalks on Highway 99 and Portage Road, and looking at the possibility of creating bike lanes and cleaning up the traffic along there," Richman said.

The meeting led to a scheduled follow-up, in which someone from the minister's office will visit the village to see the issues firsthand.

When Pemberton had a chance to bend the ear of the premier, Richman said the conversation focused on the Friendship Trail Bridge.

"We're still probably over half a million dollars short on funds for that, so I pitched a case to the premier about the social implications of this project. It's about safety, it's about commuters and it's about recreation. It would be a game changer for our area," Richman said.

"We're going to follow it up now with her staff, but I got a pretty positive sense that we caught her attention, and hopefully we'll see something come out of it."

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