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Sea to Sky resolutions get mixed UBCM reception

Invasive species, recycling pass; snow tires voted down




Resolutions proposed by Sea to Sky communities got a mixed reception at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention last week.

Policy resolutions regarding invasive species and recycling passed, while a resolution to make snow tires a legal requirement in the winter months was voted down after already being rejected by the UBCM resolutions committee.

First up was the resolution about invasive species, brought to the floor by the District of Squamish. It asked the UBCM to lobby the Province of British Columbia to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species by educating people about non-native vegetation and its impacts.

The resolution also asks the province to dedicate resources to government agencies for control of invasive species, and to institute a grants program that can assist local organizations in invasive species control.

Already endorsed by the UBCM Executive Committee, the resolution was placed into a block of motions that the union could pass together. If anyone opposed, they could ask that it be debated on the convention floor. No one did.

The passing came as good news for Corinne Lonsdale, a former mayor and now councillor with the District of Squamish. She said Japanese Knotweed is having a serious impact on native plants within Squamish and it really isn't the job of local governments to take care of it.

"Quite frankly, we should have had that resolution in front of UBCM a couple of years or more ago," she said. "The invasive species issue is one that belongs to the province, it belongs to the Minister of Forests and Parks. It shouldn't be local governments having to attack that problem."

Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton began to be awakened to the threat of invasive species some months ago when Whistler resident Kristina Swerhun made presentations to each of their councils.

Swerhun is the head of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council, an organization that has received seed funding from B.C.'s Ministry of Agriculture and Lands to identify and remove invasive species around the corridor. She made a presentation to Squamish council last spring, imploring them to take seriously the threats that invasive species post to native plants.

On Monday she h was elated to hear that the UBCM endorsed Squamish's resolution.

"Hey that's great news," she said. "After I made a presentation to Squamish council back in the spring, they said thank you for the information, we want to take it forward.

"If my talk contributed to this coming about a little bit, that's great!"

On Sept. 3 the invasive species council organized a team to uproot Scotch Broom on the Quest University campus in Squamish. A day before that, the council held a "Community Weed Pull" to remove knapweeds growing around Arn Canal in Pemberton.

Lonsdale worries primarily that invasive plants could be harming cattle ranchers who live and work in the Squamish area.

"They're a huge issue with the cattle ranchers because they choke out the grass and the foraging material for the animals," she said. "I just know it's a huge issue and I just know our climate seems to be one that's very conducive to allowing a number of other of these plants to spread."

The Resort Municipality of Whistler, meanwhile, brought resolutions regarding recycling and snow tires to the UBCM convention floor. The first asked that UBCM lobby the province to change B.C.'s Recycling Regulation to raise the minimum amount refunded for returning beverage containers to recycling centres. The resolution passed.

Whistler's other resolution failed. It asked that the UBCM create a "mountain highway" designation and adopt laws requiring winter tires or chains be used on mountain highways between the months of November and April.

That means anyone traveling the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler in the winter would have to have winter tires or chains on their vehicles.

The resolution was recommended for non-endorsement by the UBCM Resolutions Committee. It was defeated on the floor.

Nearly 200 resolutions were considered at the UBCM conference. While the successful resolutions reflect the UBCM's views they are not binding. Enacting most resolutions requires action from the provincial government.