Regional Director’s Report September 2014

Well I started September off with everyone’s favorite topic: a solid waste workshop. I was amazed by what I heard at this workshop. The RDN is the leader in recycling and solid waste management. Almost none of the other regional districts and municipalities have three-stream pick up at the curb side. We have the highest diversion rate on Vancouver Island at 70% the next closest was 54%.

autumncollageOne of the question asked was how did we achieve our high diversion rate and how can we provide this great service? That all came down to community support and a willing board of directors to move forward on a project that our residents told us was very important to them. The way we work with our solid waste has shown that it can be done and we can still do better.

The Vancouver Island Regional Library Board (VIRL) met to discuss the 2015 -2019 financial plan. I was not pleased to see an increase of 4.2%, but I also see why it’s needed.

The board ignored maintenance issues in favour of expansion and that bear has now come back to bite them in the backside. We have taken corrective measures to change that but we still have to deal with the past to be able to move to a new future.

The next big thing was the Union of B C municipalities (UBCM) conference held in Whistler.

I went up a day early to go to Reconciliation in Action workshop at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. The centre holds a gallery of the history of the people in this area along with canoes, masks, totem poles, fish weirs, and much more. The workshop was mostly about what is being done in the area of reconciliation in BC, but also Canada.

We heard from a long list of speakers, the UBCM chair, First Nations relations, Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation, Paul Lacerate of the BC Assoc. of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and many more survivors of the residential school system spoke as well – some to share what happened to them and others to tell us what they were doing to make a difference.

The Moose Hide Campaign is one of those initiatives. This campaign is a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who are standing up against violence towards Aboriginal women and children. See more

The other initiative was Orange Shirt Day Sept. 30. This day is about remembering the children of Indian residential schools and joining together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope, because “Every Child Matters”. If you would like to know more an easy internet search will keep you busy for hours.

I was fortune to be able to talk with Chief Roger Williams about the Tsilhquot’in Supreme Court decision. This decision will have far-reaching effects across the province in the control of resources and how they will be used in the traditional territory of First Nations.

It’s a very complex decision and will take some time to sort out the details, but I believe this to be a good decision.

The most inspiring part of the workshop was when the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Canada, spoke for just over one hour.

Justice Sinclair talked about the importance of what he had seen and heard. He also spoke about how important it was for us to know about what happened to the First Nations children in residential schools. It was not meant to make the non-Aboriginal population feel guilty but to help them understand that this happened and to move forward with joining together to make a better, more caring society than in the past.

The most uninspiring UBCM event was the attitude of the provincial government.

The UBCM is the time when all the regional districts and municipalities come together to talk with government ministers and the premier about policies or laws that are hurting people and need to be improved. What I saw was a government that seemed not to care about anything we said and was only interested in having a balanced budget, no matter who it hurt, or whether it hurts the economy. Between the BC provincial government and the federal government, I can only say this is not the Canada I remember.

Lastly, I have been acclaimed to office for the next four years. Thank-you for your trust in me and for your support.

Still having fun.

Howard Houle,

RDN Regional District Director,

Electoral Area B.

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