Castlegar city councillor Dan Rye returned from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference was disappointed that his cross-border shopping proposal was defeated, but pleased to be part of the process.
“I’d been there back in the 1990’s so it’s been a long time since I’d been there,” said Rye. “It was interesting. I took in all of the policy sessions, which were very interesting. A lot of people try to avoid those, but I found the debate on those items very interesting.”
Also attending the conference from Castlegar were mayor Lawrence Chernoff and councillor Gord Turner.
The executive at UBCM recommended changing the name of the organization to UBCLG (Union of BC Local Governments).
“That actually got voted down,” said Rye. “So they left it as it was. That was the first item and I thought it would pass. In my mind, it makes sense, because UBCM represents First Nations groups and regional districts not just municipalities. So I though local governments covered that off. But the crowd didn’t agree.”
The cross border shopping proposal was to recommend the UBCM pressure the provincial government to pressure the federal government to roll back the duty free tax changes to what it was before June 1.
“I felt that considering there are so many towns on the border in British Columbia, including us, it just makes it easier for people to go across the line and spent money,” said Rye. “I realize that people are always going to do that, but to double that amount didn’t make a lot of sense to me. The federal government did it with almost no consultation with business at all. They just put it through. But it got voted down.”
Rye was surprised that someone from Creston actually spoke against the motion.
“They’re even closer than us,” he said. “I was shocked that someone from there would speak against it. Small businesses are struggling as it is. Having all the money go across the border is not good.”
A couple of other hot topic items were the recommendation to decriminalize marijuana, which passed, and the oil tanker issue.
“All the polls have been saying everyone is opposed to (oil tankers on the west coast) in great big numbers,” said Rye. “But when it came down to a vote it was 51.3 per cent in favour of not allowing them and 48.7 for. So that ended up being a very tight vote.”