Kelowna councillors attend FCM conference

Two councillors from Kelowna represented the city at the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Ottawa over the weekend.

Councillor Ryan Donn says especially this year, he couldn't help but notice presenters talking about the National Disaster Mitigation program, which asked cities if they were 'flood ready.'

He says he realizes recovery efforts will be happening for awhile, but that the city can look to the future as well.

"Once we're past that, I think our role of council should be: What funding can we ask for, to be more flood read? Because this is no longer a once-in-every-hundred-year flood, this is potentially once every five years. We're going to be dealing with higher lake levels due to climate change," he said.

He says one of the big topics at this year's event was the impending legalization of marijuana, with specific conversations around whether police should be able to take blood samples from suspected impaired drivers.

"That's actually what's being debated right now at this (federal) level of government. And then how does that trickle down to municipalities? We fund 90% of our police costs," he said.

"So therefore, does this mean more work for us in regard to monitoring these different distribution centres, that they're following the law? And so I think four different conversations (as of Friday) already have been around marijuana legalization."

And while he says it's valuable to be part of big picture conversations on things like flood protection and legalized marijuana, it's just as nice networking with fellow mayors and councillors.

As he found out at the conference two years ago, it's an opportunity to steal other cities' good ideas, like the cigarette butt bins he saw on Edmonton's sidewalks.

"So I took a picture, and I forwarded it off to our staff in Kelowna. And actually, they've implemented in quietly in Kelowna over the last two years. We now have across Bernard, almost the exact same cigarette butt containers along Bernard and different places downtown," he said.

"And that was based on a picture in a different city. So you never know where the information's going to come from."

Donn says the other big highlight for him was to spend time on Parliament Hill with local MPs Stephen Fuhr and Dan Albas, where he was able to get a much broader understanding of how things work for his federal counterparts.

Joining Donn was Councillor Tracy Gray, with Mayor Colin Basran having to cancel because of the local flooding concerns.