A local Valley resident has ascended to the highest possible position a municipal B.C. politician can reach.
Regional District of East Kootenay Area F director Wendy Booth officially became the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) president last Friday, in Vancouver, during the UBCM’s annual convention.
“It’s an honour and a privilege,” Ms. Booth told the Pioneer. “It’s exciting.”
Ms. Booth outlined that her main job as president is to advocate on behalf of communities across the province, primarily to the provincial government, but also to other entities and groups.
“I’ll be advancing the common agenda of B.C. local governments,” she said.
Ms. Booth is no stranger to the upper echelons of the UBCM executive, having already served as first vice president, second vice president and a director at large during the last few years.
“It’s (being the president) something I’ve been working toward for the past couple years. I’ve kind of been climbing up the ladder,” she said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m looking forward to, and one I’m going to enjoy. It’s going to be fun.”
There are several large files that Ms. Booth will be tackling in her new role, including affordable housing.
“It’s an issue right across the province. Large urban areas and smaller communities may have different triggers for it, but it’s the same issue,” she said. “We’ll be looking at tools to ease the pressure of affordability.”
Another file emerging for Ms. Booth is that of responsible conduct of local elected officials.
“We see it across society, and sometimes it’s related to social media,” she said, adding that the UBCM has already done a policy paper on the matter (which was unanimously supported at the convention), with the aim of helping local government officials be the best they can be.
“When we have less than stellar conduct, it erodes good government in communities,” she said.
Another issue Ms. Booth will be dealing with as UBCM president is federal plans to legalize cannabis.
The UBCM would like to have input into a made-in-B.C. framework for this matter, since “we (local communities in the province) will be directly impacted,” she said.
Other members of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) were pleased with Ms. Booth becoming UBCM president.
“On behalf of the RDEK, I want to congratulate Wendy. She works tirelessly and is fully committed to everything she takes on. Here in the East Kootenay, we are lucky to have such a passionate voice representing us on a provincial level,” said RDEK board chair Rob Gay in a press release. “On a broader scale, British Columbians will benefit from Wendy’s leadership as she continues to advocate for policies and programming that benefit us all.”
Ms. Booth will not be the only East Kootenay resident or even the only Upper Columbia Valley resident on the UBCM executive. Mr. Gay will be serving as an Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) representative, and Invermere mayor Gerry Taft has been re-elected as a director-at-large.
Ms. Booth’s term as president is for one year, and she will continue to be based in Dutch Creek, near Fairmont Hot Springs, outlining that many of the conferences and meetings she needs to be part of in Victoria or Vancouver can be attended by teleconference or phone.