From pot to patient care, UBCM a mixed bag for Castlegar councillors
Councillors Dan Rye and Gord Turner returned from the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) AGM disappointed over the resounding defeat of Castlegar's single resolution that the government roll back its increase on cross-border shopping allowances.
Previously, the government allowed shoppers to return to Canada with $400 of purchases without penalty, but raised that amount to $800 this summer. Councillor Dan Rye, and after him, Castlegar council as a whole, put forward the resolution that the amount be rolled back to the original $400, and Rye was disappointed to see it defeated by a factor of about two-thirds.
"I would say it was defeated by a fair margin - I was quite suprised," he said. "Quite surprised.
"We were only asking for it to be put back to where it was - Going from $400 to $800 is asking people to spend their money across the line, and none of that money is coming back to Castlegar or B.C."
That being said, he said the UBCM was a worthwhile endeavour, just the same.
"The whole process is very good. I thnk you could tell an election is coming up - there were MPs and MLAs everywhere. Adrian Dix and Christie Clark's speeches were both packed and well-received."
He said he found the final tally in a vote regarding tankers and pipelines at the west coast enlightening, given prior press coverage - with just 51.3 per cent voting against their presence and 48.7 per cent in favour, he said he thought it put previous estimates of public opinion in an intriguing light.
He said one signifcant development for Castlegar is the announcement of a provincial athletic commission - which will see a rare uploading of responsibility from individual communities to the provincial government.
"I sit on the Castlegar athletic commission - I really think having one body to regulate these things throughout the province is great, because it has everyone playing by the same rules," he said.
As for the AGM's most contentious issue, Rye said he voted against marijauna decriminalization, arguing the criminal element will remain, especially as long as the drug represents huge criminal enterprise in the States, where the vast majority of Kootenay MaryJane is exported.
Councillor Gord Turner, however, voted in favour of decriminalization, arguing it's an issue that has reached the tipping point.
"It's time," Turner said. "I understand it's not going to solve all the issues, but I think it's a positive move for us in B.C and in Canada."
Turner said he, too, felt the pre-election buzz, and he thought a great many of the issues that arose are signifcant to the Castlegar community - ending MSP premiums for seniors, registries for sex offenders, flood mitigation approvals, and quality of medical services being maintained in smaller communities, just to name a few.