Attending his first convention in his housecoat, City of Powell River councillor George Doubt found the recently concluded Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) online convention to be a valuable experience.
With the onset of COVID-19, UBCM cancelled its physical convention and went to a virtual format, and it became a very different kind of event, according to Doubt. The convention ran from September 22 to 24.
He said in spite of technological hurdles faced by conducting such a huge convention online, with representatives of municipal governments from across the province, there were few glitches.
“They seemed to get on top of them really quickly,” said Doubt. “There were some challenges with signing in the first time and the voting took a little while to get organized so they could deal with it properly, but they dealt with the problems quickly.
“It was well done, I thought, for the first time they have ever done that.”
At every convention, municipalities submit resolutions to be voted on by the assembly and Doubt said there wasn’t the amount of time for debate there would normally be at a UBCM convention. He said there were 79 resolutions with no recommendation from the UBCM committee, which is normally where most of the debate would happen, but there wasn’t much time for that discussion.
A resolution from Powell River regarding odometer readings for measurement of community greenhouse gas was in the no recommendations block; Doubt said it wasn’t debated at the convention.
“It only would have been if there was enough time to get to it,” he added.
Only three hours were dedicated to deliberating the book full of resolutions presented at the convention.
Powell River’s resolution read:
Whereas transportation is the single largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emission source for most BC communities, and accurately tracking these emissions is critical for all local governments as well as for the Province of British Columbia to be able to implement effective climate change mitigation initiatives and achieve GHG emission reduction targets;
And whereas the provincial government does not currently provide accurate transportation emissions data to BC communities to enable them to work strategically and measurably in the reduction of community transportation emissions:
Therefore, be it resolved that UBCM ask the province to require the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia(ICBC) to collect odometer readings from all customers at the time of vehicle insurance purchase and renewal and provide aggregates of this information to local governments in order to enable effective and targeted local government action on transportation GHG emissions reduction.
Doubt said this year’s convention was shorter than usual. Usually, there are workshops on the Monday and the convention then runs from Tuesday to Friday. The speaker’s list at the convention this year included three provincial party leaders and it was the first day of the provincial election campaign, which provided added interest.
Doubt said there was a good variety of workshops. One of particular interest was a forum on economic development, which highlighted that Powell River is in a really good place right now for people deciding that working remotely is a good idea.
“Powell River has all of the things that we need to do that,” said Doubt.
Even though this year’s convention was substantially varied from the normal format, Doubt said it was a success.