UBCM debrief with Revelstoke Mayor Gary Sulz
Revelstoke’s mayor and four councillors attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference from Sept. 18 to 21 in Vancouver.
Mayor Gary Sulz and councillors Austin Luciow, Tim Stapenhurst, Tim Palmer and Matt Cherry met with two ministers, 17 provincial staff members, and 14 other resort municipalities.
The conference is a chance for municipalities to bring forward concerns to the provincial government, and to network amongst each other to discuss best practices.
“It really is speed dating,” Sulz said on the Sept. 25 Stoke FM morning show.
They have 15 minutes to meet with the ministers. Sometimes they’re successful in getting what they want, Sulz said, but usually it’s planting a seed.
The issues the delegate from Revelstoke brought forward included housing, fuel prices, more RCMP officers and wastewater treatment solutions.
Sulz also told provincial officials that Revelstoke is “open to being at the other end of the open conduit of money coming from the provincial government.”
He meant it as a joke, but was also serious, knowing that some municipalities receive grant money they can’t spend in time. He said Revelstoke would take it before it expires.
Revelstoke met with Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang about more funding for the expansion of its wastewater treatment facility.
The city was supposed to put out a tender to expand the facility this fall, but the B.C. Ministry of Environment wants to know what the water quality effluence from the treated sewer will be like before the upgrade begins.
“[It] means we’re not going to get in the ground this fall,” he said.
He says he’s always concerned about an escalation in costs from a construction delay. He’s asking the province for an extra $4.4 million.
“It’s not available now but it may be at the end of the fiscal year,” Sulz said. “We’re putting the bug in their ear now.”
They spoke with the Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, about the bridging to retirement program for forestry workers. People near the end of their career can apply for money so they can end their career early.
“And I wanted to know if that funding was going to be carrying on,” Sulz said.
He found out that 10 people applied for the funding locally, and received up to $72,000 each.
Originally, people who applied for early retirement weren’t allowed to work for 18 months after, to prevent them from getting the money and then “walking down the road to another mill,” Sulz said.
But he said that didn’t work for his community. So people can work right away after their payout now, but in a different industry.
Revelstoke is having troubles enforcing its short term rental rules, partially because so many landlords don’t live in town, and bylaw can’t fine people who aren’t present. The city is applying for an adjudication system of fine enforcement to make it easier to penalize these landlords. Regarding talking to other communities to learn best practices for enforcement, Sulz said the problems Revelstoke faces with short term rentals are province-wide.
“Everybody’s looking to the provincial government to actually put the rules in.” Sulz said.
Premier David Eby said there will be rules coming this fall, Sulz said, but nobody knows what those are yet.