Freda Creek pitch
Local government officials from across the province will be converging in Victoria next week for the annual UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) convention.
The gathering gives politicians and management staff an opportunity to network, attend workshops and meet with provincial government officials.
City of Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa said he and city councillors have a range of meetings set up with ministers on a variety of topics. As well, Tla’amin (Sliammon) First Nation representatives will be attending some of the meetings with city officials to discuss the proposed Freda Creek run-of-river project, which has the potential to generate up to 35 megawatts of power, with an estimated annual income to the city of $1.25 million.
Formosa said the city’s main thrust right now is to try to convince the provincial government to give the project a direct award, in order to avoid spending public money up front with the risk of being turned down in the end. “What we’re telling them is look at community forests and that resource,” Formosa said. “That’s what we’re pitching to government. We’re being as frugal as we can to not spend more than we have to.”
Colin Palmer, Powell River Regional District board chair, is also the chair of a group of 13 coastal regional districts and the Islands Trust which formed to combine efforts to make recommendations and offer opinions on matters related to BC Ferries. Palmer said the group will be meeting with Gordon Macatee, BC Ferry commissioner, during the convention about how his role has changed with amendments to the Coastal Ferry Act.
“For example, there was a whole series of comments by BC Ferries about cutting 400 sailings on the major routes,” Palmer said. “Well, the government somehow stepped in and said no, you’re only going to do 98. So we’re saying, wait a minute, who is making the decisions here? Was Macatee involved in this? Was it the ministry of transportation? We’re trying to get the wiring diagram of who is doing what.”
The group was also successful in arranging a 15-minute meeting with the Premier Christy Clark and the new minister of transportation and infrastructure, Mary Polak, Palmer said. “Some of our comments might be based on what we learn from Gordon Macatee,” he said.
Palmer said he will also be attending a Private Managed Forest Lands Council workshop.
Dennis Back, the regional district’s interim CAO (chief administrative officer), is attending the convention as well, Palmer said, and will be available to anyone who is interested in applying for the CAO position. The regional district has already received six or seven applications, Palmer added. “There seems to be quite a bit of interest, which is good,” he said.