I just got back home from the four-day SILGA AGM and Conference in Salmon Arm. SILGA is the Southern Interior Local Government Association which is comprised of elected officials representing 37 South-Central BC villages, towns, cities, districts, and regional districts. The group hosts an annual event that was postponed the past couple of years due to COVID-19. The last event was in April 2019 in Penticton. I also attended that one.
The main framework of a SILGA AGM and Conference is to provide local elected officials with a “safe place” to gather, network, share ideas, learn new things, meet like-minded individuals, and (as someone explained to me one evening) find support.
Let’s face it, it is not an easy job being a Mayor, Councillor, Director, or CAO for a municipality. You can’t please everyone and there are times when it is easy to feel unappreciated doing what often becomes a thankless job trying to make your community better for all who live there now and will live there years after we are all gone and forgotten.
So…to help elected officials in the region regain focus on the jobs we were put in office to do, SILGA is there.
The first day (April 26, 2022) is mostly fun, with social activities to help us all unwind. There are usually a handful of selections and we all get to pick which we want to participate in, in advance. I chose to go lawn bowling. It is something I have never done before and sounded like a lot of fun. Well, let me tell you…lawn bowling, if you have never participated, is sort of a hybrid between bocce and curling that is played on a huge golf green.
The Salmon Arm Lawn Bowling Club welcomed a small group of us SILGA delegates and showed us the mechanics of the game. I picked it up quickly and soon it was apparent that this was going to be a fun afternoon. I even did my share of trash-talking the opponents to throw them off of their shots. I was told it was part of the game by one lawn bowling club member who was obviously pulling my leg as another elderly member took me aside at one point and explained that the game is much more dignified than that. It was a funny moment.
The group fed us an assortment of homemade sandwiches and I made new friends from Lake Country, Lillooet, and even stayed behind to hang out with the cool lawn bowling club members from Salmon Arm. I also represented SILGA in a small presentation of a donation to the club thanking them for letting us throw off their schedule.
The evening included another social gathering at the Salmon Arm Legion (Branch #62) where I renewed connections with colleagues from Peachland and Lake Country.
Days 2 and 3 were loaded with presentations, guest speakers, a trade show, food, special events, and a lot of networking. I visited the Salmon Arm Art Gallery to see the solar power installation there, went downtown for something called “Lunch on The Town” which was paid for by the City of Salmon Arm, and sat through PowerPoints and video presentations with such titles as, “Turn When Into Now - Making Infrastructure Projects Feasible,” “Emerging Issues with States of Emergency,” “Trans Mountain Expansion Project Update,” and “Heat Domes, Atmospheric Rivers, Supply-Chain Disruptions, Regulatory Barriers, Surging Inflation, Pandemics: Why We Need Radical Advances in Community Food System Resiliency,” to name a few.
I socialized with MLAs, Mayors, Councillors, Directors, and CAOs from Summerland, Okanagan Falls, Squamish, West Kelowna, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton, Kamloops, and so many other areas. Many I have met before and several new faces to me who will all form part of my networking circle. I trade business cards and give mine away “like candy” (my words) and use them to my advantage as an ice breaker or form of introduction to someone I’ve just met. It is old-school, I know, but it still works.
I also took advantage of the hotel location on the waterfront of Shuswap Lake and went for walks each afternoon/evening on the Boat Basin Nature Trail (which passed by my room), and the Salmon Arm Wharf - the longest, wooden, curved wharf in North America. After all, I still have to pay attention to my health on these things. I should also mention that I was not alone at this event. Mayor Coyne also attended.
Princeton and Merritt were acknowledged frequently and I got asked several times a day about our local flood recovery efforts. I can tell you, that we have a lot of support out there from other communities who truly care about our wellbeing. Plus, I can assure you that many of the delegates there will be voting for Princeton to win Hockeyville. We got a lot of attention during the SILGA event on that one.
What are the burning issues in other communities? It may not surprise you to know that regardless of the size of the community, infrastructure (water/sewer) and housing are the top priorities across the SILGA region. It's not restricted to Princeton.
What about the $1,500? You may be wondering if I’m ever going to get to that, right? Well, the main SILGA banquet was the evening of the last full day (April 28) and it was sponsored by FortisBC. As part of the trade show, FortisBC had a booth set up and each of the approximately 200 delegates present was offered an opportunity to enter a draw. The draw was for a prize of $1,500 that the winner had to donate to a local group or charity. It’s an interesting twist on donations. Essentially, if you win, you give the money away that is supplied by FortisBC.
Near the end of the banquet, the draw was made for the $1,500 cash donation. My name was selected, so I went to the stage to accept. I’m not going to reveal who I gave it to as I’m sure FortisBC wants to make it a big announcement but I want you to think about it for a moment. What if you were given $1,500 to give away to a local group or charity, who would you choose? There are so many worthy choices in the Princeton area. It’s not an easy one, is it?
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.