Disgruntled residents took to the streets Saturday afternoon outside the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre during the 65th annual Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference voicing their concerns over BC Ferries raising fares and cutting routes

Reaching consensus at the AVICC conference in Qualicum Beach and Parksville

Mayors and councillors tackle ferries and emergency planning

Fukushima, fire sprinklers and BC Ferries were among the many issues brought up by municipalities last weekend at a conference which saw nearly 300 Vancouver Island politicians at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

The 65th annual Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) conference  brought together city councillors, mayors, regional district directors and MLAs who discussed and debated issues pertinent to their respective communities.

“People are energized about a lot of things,” said Regional District of Nanaimo chair and French Creek resident Joe Stanhope, who sits on the AVICC executive and helped form this past weekend’s agenda.

Stanhope said the hot button issue of the conference was BC Ferries.

“It’s the single biggest issue we’ve talked about,” he told The NEWS, while a crowd of disgruntled protesters gathered outside the civic centre with signs saying things like “fair fare!” and “no taxation without transportation.”

Stanhope said AVICC membership passed a resolution to hire a consultant to gather quantitative data on the socio-economic impacts of planned ferry changes.

“I feel it’s absolutely essential that government listen to what’s going on,” he said. “Ferry rates are up and ridership is down.”

Additionally, delegates at the AVICC passed resolutions to:

• Review the Workers Compensation Act with the provincial government to include elected council and board members in the definition of “worker.”

• Request the Union of British Columbia Municipalities work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to standardize the federal building code to one which equals the provincial standards.

• Request the provincial government enact legislation requiring automatic fire sprinklers be part of the 2015 B.C. Building Code.

• Support British Columbians affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

• Urge provincial and federal governments to establish a mass casualty emergency plan for high risk communities that don’t have VIHA hospitals or clinics.

Resolutions passed at the AVICC will be forwarded to the UBCM convention slated for Sept. 22 in Whistler.

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