I am writing this from my hotel room in Victoria where I am attending the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention. Normally I would focus my report on Village of Anmore business and what’s going on in our neck of the woods, but instead I am going to type about some of the great conversations taking place regionally and provincially and how these new ideas apply to our Village.
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to attend the SFU Public Square Mayors Roundtable on Community on behalf of Mayor Anderson. I was excited to participate in this conversation about community at the regional level and what I gained from the discussion was that despite our obvious differences, there are some common issues that all Metro Vancouver municipalities share when it comes to the social health of our communities. The roundtable focused on municipal strategies for strengthening community bonds, increasing residents’ sense of belonging, and building more vibrant and resilient communities. Many of these strategies will fit well into the Anmore context and I look forward to bringing them forward to our council and committees for discussion.
The 2012 UBCM convention has had some useful clinics and forums. The first I attended was a session on Local Government Finance. There was much discussion on the effects of provincial offloading of expenses to municipalities, fiscal sustainability and how municipalities can and should diversify their revenue streams. While Anmore doesn’t have the benefit of a diversified tax base from commercial and industrial properties, we can focus on a good balance of user pay services, property tax contributions towards shared services and an emphasis on careful planning of infrastructure replacement. Most interesting was the conversation about how some US cities have taken to implementing their own municipal income tax, beer taxes, local car taxes, etc., to meet their growing infrastructure costs!
The UBCM Small Talk Forum focused on challenges in health, transportation and the environment for small communities across BC. One health care professional that had been invited to speak placed a strong emphasis on moving away from standardized care and towards a team approach to health care. The idea being that a more successful and economical approach to patient care would be to provide patients access to a multidisciplinary team including a doctor, nurse practitioner, social worker, etc. There were some great successes discussed, including small community achievements in providing outdoor recreational services in lieu of costly construction of indoor facilities.
I also attended a panel discussion on social media. More and more municipalities and councils are using online sources to get news out and gain valuable feedback from residents. I won’t go into too much detail, as I should probably be tweeting about it or posting it on facebook!
I am half way through the UBCM convention and look forward to attending their annual meeting, resolution session and some of their clinics, including one on collaborative watershed governance in BC.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It's great to be out in the community, participating in some of the great events in and around Anmore and speaking to residents about what matters to them!