Hundreds of local politicians gathered at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention this past week, where they sent several messages to the provincial government.
The resolutions brought forward by municipalities throughout B.C. ranged from local government autonomy to climate change to speed limits, many of which received support from delegates.
Now that those resolutions have been endorsed, it’s up to the province to respond and decide whether to implement the recommendations.
Here are some highlights of what’s been sent to the government’s plate this year.
Local government consultation
The special resolution — brought forward by the UBCM executive — reminded the province it needs to consult with local governments on matters that affect them before launching provincial policies.
The issue was raised by a number of municipalities who felt the province has ignored principles within the Community Charter, which recognizes local governments as orders of government.
WATCH: Province imposes controversial interim resource ban in northeastern B.C. to protect caribou
The resolution specifically cited the province’s unveiling of draft partnership agreements for the caribou recovery program, which were created without consultation with municipalities in central and northern B.C.
The province ultimately imposed an interim ban on resource development in northeastern areas, and will consult with municipalities and industries during that time to develop a long-term solution.
Single-use item bans
West Vancouver’s resolution asks the province to grant local governments power over banning or restricting single-use items, including plastic bags and straws.
Several municipalities have passed or are considering such bans, including Surrey, Salmon Arm, Tofino, Ucluelet and New Westminster.
But Victoria’s plastic bag ban was recently thrown out by the B.C. Court of Appeal, which ruled the city needed provincial approval before enacting it.
The capital is now asking the Supreme Court of Canada to weigh in, while the province is reviewing the appeal court’s decision.
The mess has other municipalities fearful their own bans could be thrown out.
The Community Charter states any law meant to protect the environment must be enacted “in accordance with a regulation made by the province” or be approved by the Minister of Environment.
The province is currently seeking public consultation that could inform a B.C.-wide ban or restriction on plastic bags and other single-use items.
Several resolutions regarding climate change were passed at the UBCM this year.
Richmond’s call for provincial oversight of compostable packaging design, collection and management won approval, as well as Powell River’s request for an environmental fee for all single-use plastic items.
WATCH: Millions take part in climate strike across B.C.
Other resolutions from various municipalities covered limits and reductions of greenhouse gases, standards for microplastic filtration, and overhauling the beverage container recycling program (including raising the deposit fee).
Clean transportation was also addressed, with members endorsing “right-to-charge” rules for electric vehicles at residences and investments in low-emission transportation, including inter-city bus and rail service.
Multiple blanket calls for action on the global climate emergency were also passed.
Despite the strong support for environmental initiatives, efforts to lobby fossil fuel companies to cover climate change costs were not endorsed or withdrawn altogether.
While 2019 proved to be a minor year for wildfires, UBCM members still endorsed a number of resolutions aimed at improving response and overall health.
A pair of resolutions brought forward by the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District called on the province to develop policies with local communities about how best to allow entry into evacuation order zones, as well as permit homeowners to stay and defend their properties.
The issues came up during the last two record-breaking wildfires seasons in 2017 and 2018, which saw residents who wished to stay behind forced to leave.
At least one instance last year also saw a convoy of firefighting equipment brought in for assistance blocked from entering a fire zone.
Other resolutions aimed to develop better management policies for forests to try and prevent future fires.
Finally, members agreed to a request for greater provincial study on the effects of wildfire smoke and ways to prevent negative health effects.
Delta’s call for the province to work with the federal government and local port authorities to re-establish a dedicated police force at B.C.’s ports was approved by members.
The issue was brought up last month by the city’s mayor and police chief, who quoted Peter German’s money laundering report that cited a lack of port policing as a contributing factor.
WATCH: (Sept. 13) Port of Vancouver vulnerable to organized crime?
The Ports Canada Police unit was cut by the federal government in 1997, which was followed by further funding cuts to other port-dedicated policing efforts.
Delta police say less than one per cent of containers now get checked when they come in or out of Deltaport.
Speaking of money laundering, Delta also called on the province to “take immediate steps” to curb the illegal practice within B.C. casinos.
The resolution also asks for an evaluation of all cashless gaming systems, which use account-based card technologies and could be used to curb money fraud.
The B.C. government called a public inquiry into money laundering earlier this year. Formal hearings are expected to begin next spring.
WATCH: (Sept. 26) Questions about Great Canadian Gaming executives
Vancouver wants the province to allow the city and other municipalities to impose blanket speed limits on residential streets.
The request is related to efforts in city council to lower the speed limit on certain side streets from 50 km/h to 30 km/h.
The change would alter the Motor Vehicle Act, which has set the standard residential speed limit at 50 km/h.
Vancouver city council unanimously passed a motion this spring to test the 30 km/h idea, which councillors say would reduce fatal pedestrian collisions.
Staff is expected to put forward a plan on how the test will work later this year.
Housing, drug resolutions referred
Among the resolutions referred to the UBCM executive for further review included several aimed at drug and housing policies.
On the housing front, White Rock’s request to allow other municipalities beyond Vancouver to impose their own vacancy or empty homes taxes was referred, along with Vancouver’s call for further renoviction protections.
Efforts to curb the overdose crisis — including the creation of a safe drug supply, observed inhalation sites and limiting youth access to vape products — were also referred.