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Attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Quebec City

Federation of Canadian Municipalities had their annual conference this last week.  May 30 to June 2.

Nanaimo’s attendance at the event was 6 councillors and 1 mayor.  This was my first FCM conference and I unsure what I would be able to learn at this event however I was pleasantly surprised.

One of the many plenary sessions at the conference.

First off there was the trade show.  Lots of vendors and government agencies were there promoting their products or areas.   I found many were relevant to Nanaimo and some no so much.  I found a company that has a product that wraps concrete.  That means if we wanted to have the Bastion Bridge done up to look like Lego, they could do it.  Mostly they do smaller items.  I also found a company that can put colour and artwork on Pavement.  Think Pride colours on sidewalks that last for many years.  Or a plaza that has local arts works.  Want a Yellow brick road through the downtown?  They can do that too.  There is also a company that sells very large planters that are self watering.  Good for our area and less work to manage.  They can also be used for road barriers.  Of course, there were also the major associations from the concrete, forestry and other industries.  Another vendor was promoting their parking meter options.  Some great new ideas that are more effective and require less labour than we are presently using.  A nice low-cost item was a handheld Parking enforcement management solution.  It even digitally “chalks” tires.  It’s these types of innovative products we will need when we look at increasing our parking enforcement through out our city and therefore increasing our revenue and keeping our costs down.  There was even a vendor who has a plug and play option for waster water treatment which includes membrane treatment.  Not necessary for Nanaimo but definitely an issue in the RDN.

Some of the hundreds of Power Point Slides

First day of the conference was a bit light.  First timer’s orientation which was nice but didn’t really say much more than if you had read the program carefully. Then off to our Regional meetings where we talked about what we need to do regarding elections that were coming up for board members from BC.  Then the trade show opened and that is where we got to discuss local issues with vendors.

The next day was much more interesting.  Of course, more trade show plus opening ceremonies, lots of speeches and thank you’s and our first of four Political speeches.  Trudeau was up first and later that day Sheer.  After that there was a President’s Forum: “looking ahead to Election 2019” (which I’m not) so I continued at the trade show.  Then our first workshop.  Many to choose from.  I went to the one mis-titled “Procuring low-carbon solutions” While technically a correct title it was all about a new form of Cement called Contempra.  Which has a much lower carbon footprint in it’s manufacture.  There was a lot of stats and graphs that showed how using this cement in construction was more beneficial to the environment than using wood structures.  Not sure it was a peer reviewed report, but it was certainly worth pursuing so I have reached out to City Staff who are already looking into it.

Then lunch, more tradeshow stuff and then listening to 4 people give a speech on why we should vote for them for the 3rd VP position with FCM.  After that Sheer spoke to the delegates.  Lot of strong support for him.  (There was a big Alberta contingent there).

Then there was the option to attend another workshop or the Climate Caucus meeting.  I chose to go to that meeting with Councillors Tyler and Geselbracht.  Great meeting and looking forward to the work to come.

Later that night was the Mayor’s reception.  Big event with lots of local entertainment.  If you follow me you would have seen some of the entertainment that I streamed live on facebook.

Leader of the NDP speaking to delegates

Next day we had the Resolutions Plenary for an hour where we voted on 5 resolutions and then listened to the leader of the NDP.  Then our first workshop of the day and I went to Festivals and other community events: Risks and Rewards (also not named well) However it was a very good workshop I learned about risk management (an interest of mine) when doing festivals and events. I got the chance to promote our Bathtub races to over 300 councillors from across Canada.  Then the other part of the workshop was on Sponsorship in Municipalities.  Put on by a consulting company that just does that.  They come into a community and do an asset evaluation of everything in the city and give advice on Sponsorship opportunities, Policy development and they will even find you companies that will want to partner with the community.  I do believe that Toronto gets over $20m/year on sponsorship and even a small town of 10,000 makes $200,000/year.  We are talking sponsorship here and not push advertising. I’ll be following up on this from a policy point of view.

Meeting on Affordable Housing. Standing room only.

Then lunch and then the afternoon workshop.  I went to Municipalities and the affordable housing crisis.  It was a panel format with one of the speakers Minister Robinson from BC.  Councillor Hemmens asked a question trying to draw her out on some of the things that have gone wrong however the Minister dodged the question like a pro.

Then we had the night off so went with Beverley and walked the streets of old Quebec City and had a grand time.

June 2nd was the AGM and election for 3rd VP.  Green Party leader spoke, and she had a lot of supporters too.  (there was a big BC contingent there). Then we broke out for our regional elections then lunch and then the FCM 2019-20 Board member Election results and then the closing Plenary.  Then later that night was the Host City reception.

I also met during the conference many councillors from all over Canada.  During one of the last events I met with Andy Morel from Rossland.  We got to talking about short term rentals like AirBnB and how Rossland has handled the issue.  They are way ahead of Nanaimo so I got his card and he will be sending me the policy on Short Term rentals and I’ll be following up with Staff on that one too.

Finally, I got a change to walk around Quebec City with my lovely wife Beverley and had an opportunity to see how they handle infrastructure and walk-ability.  (We paid for Beverley’s flight out to Quebec and back) Two things stood out for me.  They use scramble intersections.  Where when the light is green to walk all the traffic stops both ways.  Pedestrians are never walking when cars are moving.  But they go one more.  In a street section of 6 blocks when the light is green to walk the entire 6 blocks shuts down to traffic and all the intersections are full of walking people.  Very cool.

So, was my trip there worth the cost of sending me there?  I think so.  I have new leads, new information and new contacts to start some work here in Nanaimo that if implemented will save us money or help us make money. I think the trip for me was well worth it.  Apparently UBCM is even better so I look forward to going there in September.

Don Bonner

City of Nanaimo Councillor.

 

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