September 2019 was a very interesting month for me. It started as usual with regular meetings and ended with a week-long conference in Vancouver. A lot of ground was covered throughout the month and I’ll try to give you a general idea of what all took place and the accomplishments made along the way.
Regular Public Meetings
My meeting schedule contained a total of 12 regular meetings for September. One ended up getting cancelled and two I missed due to scheduling conflicts. Here is the breakdown:
September 3 and 16 – Town Council
September 11 – Committee of the Whole
September 4 – Princeton Arts Council
September 17 – Princeton Exhibition Association (PXA) *
September 19 – Princeton Museum Society *
September 18 – Okanagan Regional Library, Kelowna *
September 12 – Community Health Centre Working Committee *
September 20 – SOS Division Family Practice, Penticton *
(* denotes meeting attended alone. All other meetings include members of Town Council and Staff).
September 4 saw the massive wood archways go up spanning Vermilion Avenue and Bridge Street as the first part of a downtown beautification project. They look fantastic!
September 7 I attended the 2nd annual Bra and Toonie Auction at Princeton Golf Course Clubhouse. I was the auctioneer again and helped raise money for the Terry Fox Cancer Society.
UBCM – Union of British Columbia Municipalities
The annual ‘government convention’ hosted by the UBCM is always the last week of September. This year’s was in Vancouver and all of your town council, plus CAO, attended. There were several workshops, networking events and receptions planned for the five days of UBCM. Probably the most important part of the event for Princeton Town Council was the private meetings were had with provincial ministry officials. In total, we had four:
September 24 – Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions Staff
September 25 – Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Staff
September 25 – Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Staff
September 26 – Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing – Minister Selina Robinson
Each meeting ranged in length from 15 to 30-minutes and was carefully timed. We had prepared presentations for each visit and were complimented more than once on how prepared we were. Detail on each meeting will be released at a later date.
Workshops Plus More
My first event at UBCM was on September 23 and was a workshop titled, “Parity: Breaking Down Barriers, Building Momentum.” It focused on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) recently adopted national action to “remove barriers and support more women to run, win and stay in local elected office.” This was followed by a New Delegates Orientation Session. The day wrapped up with a reception hosted by FortisBC.
The rest of the week included the above-mentioned ministry meetings and additional workshops. I attended one titled, “Connected Communities BC: Enhancing Resiliency Through Connectivity” that centred on how small communities can benefit from better internet infrastructure. I listened to Mayors of small towns in BC explain their plight and describe how they believed that fibre internet would become “a game changer” in their town. It made me realize how far ahead Princeton really is on this particular subject.
Logging Truck Convoy
I have to admit that the members of Princeton Town Council had up-to-date information on the location and size of the logging truck convoy that was heading to downtown Vancouver on September 25. As a result, we were outside cheering them on with several of the record 2,000 delegates at UBCM as the convoy was heading to that event. They got to a block away from the event where traffic control directed them away from the immediate area. However, the estimated 400 logging trucks took two hours to pass the intersection of Canada Place and Burrard Street and we were down there with them.
BC Premier John Horgan acknowledged their efforts on the final day of UBCM with his closing address. He pointed out that urban BC has the infrastructure for rural BC to grow with while rural BC has the resources needed by urban BC and that both sides have to work in partnership in order to succeed. By the sound of many comments heard following the convoy, the loggers got their message across and left quite an impression on elected officials from many of the urban centres in the province. I was filled with pride when I saw local logging trucks pass me on Canada Way in front of the Vancouver Convention Centre. The one truck with a BC flag and a Town of Princeton flag on it caused me to step aside to gather my thoughts. It was an emotional sight to see.
The Take Aways
Aside from learning about some incredibly cool products that you may or may not see popping up in and around Princeton that were part of the UBCM Trade Show, I learned a great deal from conversations and observations. I think what I found most interesting is that regardless of the size of your community, we all share the same basic issues. Infrastructure and housing are usually the hot button issues and they also happen to be the focus of our efforts as well. In the coming month we will be attending Strategic Planning and Budget Sessions and I expect things learned from connections made at UBCM to provide some guidance.
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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.