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UBCM opening act: how municipalities can improve relations with First Nations groups

Whistler shares what it learned when its community plan was challenged in court
UBCM Mike Furey
Resort Municipality of Whistler CAO Mike Furey speaks at the Union of BC Municipalities convention on Sept. 10.
The biggest annual gathering of elected officials in the province is underway in Whistler.

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention runs at the Whistler Conference Centre until Friday, Sept. 14.

Sessions on the first day of the convention included panel discussions on green innovation, affordability and Indigenous affairs.

Along with Squamish Nation councillor Chris Lewis, Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) Chief Administrative Officer Mike Furey was part of a panel on advancing local government relations with Indigenous peoples on the first day of the convention.

Furey spoke about the RMOW's 2011 Official Community Plan (OCP), which was challenged by local First Nations in court and eventually quashed.

"We tried to learn about each other, and tried to sort of capture some common understandings and workable outcomes. We weren't able to achieve that," Furey said of the 2011 OCP discussions.

But looking back on that process, Furey said he could see why the effort wasn't successful.

"Over the last number of years we've worked harder to get to know one another as individuals and communities, not just in formal sessions, but in informal places as well, and getting an idea about each others aspirations, our worries, our community dynamics, thinking about the future," he said.

"That part, it sounds easy, but it's been a lot of hard work, and really we've only in the last number of years moved beyond the sort of polite conversation to really getting down to the hard task of community-to-community relationship building."

Each year member municipalities put forward resolutions they would like UBCM to take to the province.

This year Whistler has put forward two of its own: one relating to the collection of unpaid bylaw fines (asking the province and ICBC to collect traffic-related fines on behalf of municipalities) and unaddressed ad mail (asking Canada Post to include local governments in its list of exemptions for delivering unaddressed ad mail, allowing local government to use unaddressed ad mail to reach their citizens, and; asking Canada Post to develop a system that allows residents to opt in for ad mail rather than having to opt out).


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