In your June 12 edition, a letter was submitted entitled “Finding Restraint” at the Town of Golden. The first issue posed had little to do with restraint but berated the provincially established Freedom of Information process the author had to engage to get information he wanted.
A great amount of information about your local government can and should be available and is. Look to our website or come to Town Hall to find them.
Information that can be sourced quickly is typically done so for anyone asking as well. But spending time analyzing and producing data in the off chance someone may come looking for it is not something we have time for. So when a data request comes to us, if it isn’t just a matter of pulling a record – if it requires finding data, collating it, or even creating new records – then we use the FOI process.
JUST LIKE ANY OTHER COMMUNITY WOULD.
It is time consuming and impacts the ability of our staff to do their regular duties. Therefore it warrants accountability on both sides – charging the requestor if the work is beyond what law tells us is reasonable to the taxpayer, and ensuring a deadline for us to deliver the information in. Write to the Province if you don’t like the FOI process.
Up next was exposing the costs of council attending the Union of BC Municipalities annual conference, which the author supports, but feels that attendance should be limited.
UBCM is the only provincial oriented function actually designed for all elected members of municipalities. It is a critical forum for those elected to truly understand their role through connecting with peers, debating resolutions, and attending educational workshops.
Training and education are an investment in the people who chose public service in a complex environment. In order to influence change in the government structure, you have to be part of the larger system (UBCM) that can influence change.
It is an unequalled professional development opportunity, particularly for a group of individuals who in our case are elected to lead a community and participate in it extensively, while averaging less than $5 per hour in pay over their term.
UBCM gives relevancy to communities by providing the opportunity to speak with cabinet ministers and other provincial leaders to lobby for important community attention and funding.
In the past five years Golden Council has successfully brought back millions in community benefits as a direct result of its attendance and lobbying efforts at UBCM.
It is critical to point out that without investing in the governance training, peer support, and lobbying efforts of elected officials, it may result in the long term erosion of council’s ability to do their job well. Not attending UBCM is a disservice to the key reasons one is elected – to govern wisely by understanding the broader issues of local government, and its relationship to the Province. At 0.31 per cent of total annual expenses for all of council to attend, the deal could not be better.