September 30, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - Local politicians made sure issues around transportation and the environment were acknowledged at a week-long government convention in Victoria.
Vernon mayor Akbal Mund, along with five council members, attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities this week and says it was a good opportunity to get local issues front and centre.
“You discuss with the ministries what you’d like to see in the region,” he says.
Vernon council had four meetings, including one with B.C.’s solicitor general regarding issues with the province downloading policing costs onto the city.
“It’s not that we’re arguing the costs, it’s the way they’re given to the municipality,” Mund says. “We’re told we’re going to have to start paying, within a week we already get an invoice. It doesn’t give us time to budget at all.”
As an example, he says the municipality was informed last year that it would be paying for police dog services.
“We got the bill the very next day — $27,000. I’m not lying to you,” Mund says. “We just wanted the ministry to know with all this increased downloading and increased costs, there’s got to be some way they can help municipalities a bit more.”
Council also met with Environment Minister Mary Polak about invasive zebra and quagga mussels.
“What people need to understand is it would only take one boat coming through with no inspection — that’s all it’s going to take. Once that happens we’re going to be spending millions of dollars to make sure our (water) pipe system is clean. It’s amazing how fast they take over a lake.”
Council urged the Environment Minister to establish inspection stations at all entry points, 24/7 to prevent the invasive mussels from getting into our lakes. Compared to last year, Mund says there seemed to be more appetite from the province to take action.
“You could tell Minister Polak was much more engaged than last year,” Mund says.
Council also met with the Ministry of Transportation to speak about safety improvements at the intersections of Highway 97 and 32 Avenue, and Highway 97 and 48 Avenue.
“The goal being, eventually there will be no lefthand turns on Highway 97 that don’t have a light,” Mund says.
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