West Kelowna councillor finds value in FCM conference

Not every member of West Kelowna council is fond of Federation of Canadian Municipalities conferences.

But one councillor certainly is.

From June 1 to 4, Coun. Carol Zanon represented the Westside at FCM’s 75th annual conference and trade show in Saskatoon.

In January, West Kelowna council debated whether or not to send a representative to this year’s FCM conference.

During that discussion, Mayor Doug Findlater said that he wasn’t impressed when he attended an FCM conference in Whistler a few years ago.

“Since then others have gone. . .I haven’t found anything that’s come back particularly illuminating and valuable to the district,” said Findlater in January.

But Zanon was quick to argue that FCM offers municipalities a direct mechanism for a relationship with the federal government.

After attending the 2012 conference, her mind hasn’t changed.

“I am a citizen of West Kelowna and B.C., but above all, I’m Canadian and I want to be part of the national scene, not just the local,” she said.

“It’s a healthy debate with the mayor. . .he has his nose to the grindstone all the time with pertinent issues; it’s up to the rest of us to bring forward some different ideas and put them into the mix.”

She admitted that not every topic of discussion at the 2012 conference was pertinent to West Kelowna; however, she said issues such as the long-term infrastructure plan will definitely affect the district.

“Last year at FCM, Minister (of transport, infrastructure and communities) Denis Lebel said that he was going to roll up his sleeves and go to work and get onto a new program that would take over after the Building Canada Fund was finished (in 2014),” said Zanon.

“This time he set a time limit on it. He said that there would be nine roundtables held across Canada and he wanted to hear from all stakeholders. He will be delivering a report to Minister (Jim) Flaherty before the end of this year.”

Zanon said that in addition to attending talks and workshops, she took part in two study tours.

“I walked all around the city of Saskatoon for about two-and-a-half hours on a guided tour and was exposed to some really fascinating concepts.

“I’ve always been interested in fostering the interests of our business community toward having a business improvement area. (In Saskatoon) they call it a business improvement district. (I got) some pretty good ideas from how they do things there.”

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