Local governments from across the north and central interior of British Columbia will meet this week in Dawson Creek for the annual meeting of the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA).
A number of resolutions impacting northern residents will be debated at the meetings, including a push for fossil protections, more municipal involvement in wildfire management and a push to urge the province to give more consideration to the distance students travel to school when doling out bus funding to school districts.
The need for fossil protections came to the fore last month, when an absent-minded hiker set a campfire on top of a dinosaur trackway in Tumbler Ridge.
Although provincial legislation likely won’t halt these incidents from happening, the incident highlighted the fact that B.C. is the only province in Canada without any law to protect and preserve its paleontological resources and fossil records.
“Putting a fire on something like that is just incomprehensible stupidity,” Rich McCrea, curator of the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre said. “If the province enacts legislation, it’ll give protection to all sites. This is a deficit that has to be addressed on a provincial scale it’s not just these sites (in Tumbler Ridge) — it’s any number of sites, even ones we don’t know about yet.”
School bus funding
The regional district wants the Ministry of Education to consider the distances students in rural areas travel to school when handing out funding to school district’s for busing.
With a new funding formula introduced in 2012, the ministry uses what is called the “student location factor,” which considers population density instead of distance travelled.
Under that model, the PRRD says school districts would receive the same amount of funding per student whether they live within 10 kilometres or 100 kilometres from the city. The result is that school districts in the region have received less funding.
“The change has had a significant impact on the ability of many rural school district to provide busing services to rural families in a cost effective manner,” the regional district said in a Feb. 25 briefing note.
A formula that takes into account where a student lives in relation to the school they attend would make more sense, the PRRD says.
For example, the public transit system in the Lower Mainland is based on fare zones and recognizes that the further out a person travels, costs to maintain and operate the transit system are greater and therefore the fare charged is higher,” the briefing notes states.
Other resolutions of note
• The City of Quesnel would like to see the province move the B.C. Family Day holiday from the second Monday to the third Monday in February, so that it is in line with the other Canadian provinces.
• The District of Tumbler Ridge and the PRRD want the province to amend off-road vehicle legislation to allow municipal governments to regulate the operation of off-road vehicles and golf carts within local government boundaries, similar to the existing permitted operations for snowmobiles.
• The City of Quesnel wants the NCLGA to urge the province to accelerate the repainting of highway markings with improved, durable and reflective paint.
• The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George wants the NCLGA to push the provincial government to consider discontinuing daylight savings time throughout the province.
• The City of Williams Lake wants to call on the province and federal governments to endorse and support GPS tracking of prolific and repeat offenders who are considered risks to their communities.