Stetski returns from UBCM

Cranbrook mayor and councillors meet with provincial ministers to address local issues.

Local city politicians have returned from the annual gathering of elected officials that makes up the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

Cranbrook mayor Wayne Stetski, along with councillors Sharon Cross, Diana J. Scott and Gerry Warner represented Cranbrook at the event, as municipal officials met with their provincial counterparts to address and solve local issues.

For Stetski, there was a number of issues to address that reached across several provincial ministries, including highway tourism, fair municipal funding and tackling urban deer. In addition to the individual meetings with provincial ministries, the UBCM delegates passed roughly 134 resolutions on topics such as funding municipalities with no population and calling on the government to add more police officers to rural areas.

Acquiring funding for a few infrastructure projects was one of the more important meetings Stetski had with Coralee Oaks, the minister of community, sport and cultural development.

“Specifically the need for funding for completing the sewage transfer pipe line which goes from the lagoons at the end of town here out to the spray irrigation fields on the way to Fernie,” Stetski said. “Half the pipeline has been completed and enlarged, and we need about $5.8 million, is the estimate, to complete that pipeline.

“The second project of sort of priority significance here, is doing replacements for the dam at Idlewild Lake and Idlewild Park, and to dredge the lake. It does fill in with sediment over time, because it is at the mouth of a creek and it’s time to dredge the lake.”

It’s been 30 years since Idlewild Lake was last dredged, and there is a concrete wall in the middle of the lake that can direct the flow while half of it is being dredged, according to Stetski.

That project will cost roughly $2.5 million.

Stetski is hoping to access funding from the Build Canada Fund, which is a cost-sharing program between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

“The bad news is that there was no opening to even apply right through the summer, so we’ve lost an entire season,” said Stetski. “The good news is that the minister announced, and we confirmed in our meeting, that starting here in October, we can at least apply for the funding from the program.”

Along with municipal funding, the issue of urban deer was a common theme for mayors across the province, as Stetski and his municipal colleagues met with Steve Thompson, the minister of forest, lands and natural resource operations.

“A year ago, there was some talk about setting up a committee to work specifically on this issue and concerns, and the minister did announce that he’ll have something up and running in November,” said Stetski.

“The major concern from municipalities, is that these are the province’s deer, but dealing with them costs municipalities money. Of course, municipalities would like to see financial involvement from the province to help with costs.”

Other meetings included discussions on the Asia Pacific Initiative, as Cranbrook has been paired up with Taicang Jiangsu province in the Peoples Republic of China and Wonju, Gangwon province in South Korea.

However, the provincial government isn’t extending any more funding for the program, and the city is still trying to recognize the economic benefits, according to Stetski.

Stetski also had a chance to network with his municipal counterparts, and he tracked down Port Alberni mayor John Douglas to talk about a derelict building bylaws, which the coastal community created roughly a year ago.

“In essence, it’s a registration program for derelict buildings where you pay $1,000 up front to keep your building vacant and it kind of progresses from there in terms of where things can go and the amount you might have to pay,” Stetski said.

…”I’ll be staying in touch with their mayor because it’s something I’m intrigued with in terms of looking at Cranbrook and it’s future and the derelict buildings we have here.”

Other meetings included topics such as promoting tourism on Highway 3 from Hope to Sparwood and growing the greenhouse industry in Cranbrook, as it is the sunniest city in B.C., Stetski added.