From April 25 to April 28, I was in Vernon. I was the second delegate from Princeton in attendance at the 2023 SILGA AGM and Conference held in the Prestige Vernon Lodge. I was not originally scheduled to be at this event but had the opportunity when another member of the Princeton Town Council could not make it.
I arrived in Vernon during the noon hour on the first day (April 25). Instead of participating in one of a few different field trips planned for delegates, I chose to attend two presentations. The first one was “Climate Change and the Future for Water in the Okanagan” which was hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board. The second one was “Syilx Leadership for Protecting Water" and it was presented by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program. Future flooding potential was the main point of both sessions.
The evening ended with a social event for delegates to network, mingle, get to know each other, or re-establish contacts. I found myself sitting with delegates from Keremeos for most of the conference. However, I did reconnect with peers from Peachland, Lake Country, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna, Oliver, Osoyoos, and the surrounding region.
Day 2 (April 26)
I missed most of it as I had a previously scheduled series of medical appointments in Kelowna to attend. I did get back to Vernon in time to attend the evening Welcome Reception, which provided more networking opportunities.
Day 3 (April 27)
I spent all day from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM in the conference centre. The day included the SILGA Annual General Meeting, election speeches, elections, and numerous AGM reports. Sessions attended during the day included a “Trans Mountain Project Expansion Update” where we learned that the project is just about complete with the taps set to turn on soon. Later in the morning was a presentation on the “Canada Community Building Fund Renewal” and before lunch, the Chief Economist for the BC Real Estate Association presented a session titled, “The Path to Recovery in the Housing Market.”
The afternoon was full of presentations from the BC Lottery Corporation, one on “Planning and Response to Climate Related Events,” and “The Elected Official Role in Planning and Development.” I also attended a breakout session titled, “The 13 Things Local Governments Need To Know for Successful Economic Development.” One of the presenters, Dale Wheeldon of the BC Economic Development Association, referenced Princeton several times in his slide show as an example of what to do to attract economic development. His presentation contained many photos of Princeton and he praised both Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne (who was also at the conference) and Princeton Director of Economic Development Gary Schatz for their post-flood economic recovery plans and marketing programs attracting people back to our area.
The evening ended with a banquet and dance with live entertainment. I called it a night shortly after the band hit the stage.
Day 4 (April 28)
Started with BC Assessment’s Graham Held presenting his slide show “Overview of Property Assessment and 2023 Assessment Roll.” I had seen this in early March when I was in Kelowna for the LGLA (Local Government Leadership Academy) conference. I also sat through the presentation titled, “Media 101: Setting Yourself Up For Success” where I heard a few delegates lament the bullying they experience from their local media and panelists explaining the evils of having a presence on social media.
I disagree with most of what they said simply because, in a small community like Princeton, social media is active (sometimes overactive) but an effective tool for communicating important local government information to taxpayers. It also provides a valuable link between taxpayers and elected officials. Although the number of us engaging in social media activity locally is quite small, I know from my years in the media industry how to use it for what I need and admit that it gives locals better access to me, if they need to reach me for something.
The morning finished with greetings from BC Liberal (United) Official Opposition MLA Dan Ashton of Penticton and words from the Honourable Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs.
I left Vernon during the noon hour and got back home in the early evening as I had a few stops to make along the way. I enjoyed attending this, my third SILGA AGM and Conference. I was at last year’s in Salmon Arm and attended the last pre-COVID event in Penticton in 2019. My takeaways are many. What I learn more than anything else at these events is that regardless of the size of the community in the southern interior, we all share the same issues and by working together, and using the SILGA platform to advocate, changes can come.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.