Cranbrook mayor and council had an opportunity to discuss key issues with provincial government ministers and heads last week at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.
Mayor Wayne Stetski was able to meet with Premier Christy Clark and with eight members of the provincial cabinet to discuss issues from urban deer management to building new schools.
Urban wildlife management was one of the subjects at the top of the list in the short, to-the-point meetings. Stetski stressed the need for additional tools besides culling to deal with urban deer populations. Other tools that are not currently permitted but that are of interest are contraceptives that could be given to does, translocation to another area, hazing with dogs and specialized hunting near city boundaries.
“It’s increasingly an issue around the province so we need a provincial approach to resolving the problem,” Stetski said.
On this topic council spoke to Premier Clark and Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Stetski said the minister would be setting up a small group to look at the issue, but gave no timeline.
“We really appreciated the premier, the cabinet ministers, and their senior staff, taking the time to meet with us last week,” he said.
Stetski, along with other mayors who form the Highway 3 Coalition, also spoke to the premier and Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to talk about issues facing communities on the Highway 3 corridor. He and council also discussed a potential overpass/underpass across Highway 3.
Council met with Amrik Virk, Minister of Advanced Education, to discuss future potential for the College of the Rockies to become a university college.
They also discussed the replacement of Mount Baker Secondary School and the Key City Theatre with Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education. However Stetski said the priority is building new schools in places like Surrey where the population is steadily increasing, followed by earthquake proofing schools in earthquake prone areas, neither of which includes Cranbrook. The third priority is replacing aging buildings, which would include Mount Baker Secondary.
“They are absolutely aware it needs to be replaced, the question is when,” he said.
Council discussed the proposed Salvation Army homeless shelter project planned for Cranbrook with Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing.
A meeting with Pat Pimm, Minister of Agriculture, was set up to discuss the potential development of a greenhouse industry in the city and funding opportunities around such a program.
The developing relationship between the City of Cranbrook and both Taicang, China, and Wonju, South Korea, was brought up in a meeting with Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. Trade, business and tourism opportunities with Asia, along with opportunities for cultural exchanges of dancers, artists and musicians were also discussed.
“Many of the concerns we brought up were not news to the cabinet ministers,” Stetski noted. “It was very clear that our MLA Bill Bennett has ensured that they are well aware of our interests, and we very much appreciate his support.”
Stetski said the general message is that the province is intent on balancing the budget this year, so money will be tight. They are hoping things will lighten up for the 2014/15 budget year.