More than 250 delegates from 53 coastal communities spent a weekend in Powell River, covering a range of coastal issues at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention, April 12 to 14.
The speakers’ list included premier John Horgan, BC Green Party leader Dr. Andrew Weaver, minister of municipal affairs and housing Selena Robinson, and keynote speaker Mark Collins, president and CEO of BC Ferries. The convention was cosponsored by City of Powell River and qathet Regional District.
Regional district chair Patrick Brabazon said the quality of speakers was excellent, and the feedback he received from delegates was that Powell River Recreation Complex had been a great venue. The convention was a great experience, he added.
Brabazon said there is value in hosting events such as the AVICC because it creates a broader awareness of this region.
In terms of the speaking with other delegates, Brabazon said he received a number of questions about the change of name from Powell River Regional District to qathet.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve sewn a few seeds with other regional districts that are now considering changing their names because they have their own problems and difficulties with the names they have,” said Brabazon. “Now, they realize it’s possible.”
One of the main purposes of meetings such as this convention is to get together and exchange ideas. Brabazon said he has one director with a particular interest in improvement districts. She raised the issue and found a similar regional district that had similar problems, and has overcome them.
“She and that other director are now together and they are talking about it,” said Brabazon. “This is extremely valuable. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
City of Powell River councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said it was an amazing weekend.
“Everybody felt it went really smoothly and it was a great time had by all,” said Leishman.
Leishman said there was a great group of people working on the organizing committee from the city and regional district, as well as from Victoria.
“The city staff bent over backwards to pull this off, so it was awesome,” she added.
Carl Jensen, a councillor from District of Central Saanich and newly elected president of the AVICC, said it was a very productive weekend.
“As a group we learned from each other, we debated policy on the convention floor, and helped our newly elected members and officials get a taste of what they’ve signed on for the next four years,” said Jensen.
A recurrent theme during resolutions debated at the convention was the environment. City of Powell River advanced two resolutions: one related to single-use disposable products and one related to climate emergency. The second resolution was superseded by a City of Victoria motion that was deemed to provide a better local government focus. Leishman said both resolutions passed and will be carried on to the Union of BC Municipalities convention in the fall for consideration.
Jensen said one of the benefits was a session conducted by the Let’s Talk Trash Team, outlining some of the strategies being used in the Powell River region to reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill.
“One of the things I love about these conventions is we, as 53 different organizations, don’t have to learn how to build a wheel,” said Jensen. “We can learn about the other groups and the wheels they’ve already built. We can make use of a wheel that is already being used."
“Let’s Talk Trash was a great example of great things you are doing locally that all of us take back to our respective communities,” he added. “We want to look at what Powell River is doing to manage their trash and what they are putting in their landfill, and maybe we can use some of that in Central Saanich as well.”
Jensen said he’d like to think everyone who attended went away feeling there was good value in meeting. Powell River did a fantastic job of hosting the convention, he added.
“It was a blast. It’s important for us to come and spend time in a community and at the same time make sure we leave some dollars in the community,” said Jensen. “We were happy to be there and we appreciate the hospitality.”