An invitation to BC's new municipal leaders

From climate change to affordability, Resource Works is here to provide a platform for dialogue around our shared resource future, says Stewart Muir.

Stewart Muir, founder and executive director of Resource Works.

Congratulations to our many new mayors, city councillors and school board trustees and to those who were re-elected to their roles.

For our newly elected officials, there is a steep learning curve ahead. New leaders are required to command management and communications skills while they navigate complex decisions in what can be a conflict-ridden atmosphere.

At times like this, I always like to cite Alexis de Toqueville, the French Englightenment thinker who spent a lot of time studying democracy. In his travels around the new republic of the United States, he marvelled at the exercise of local government. Most memorably, he described municipal government as the building block of democracy.

Fresh off of campaigns (except for those so lucky to have won by acclamation), candidates had a full serving of just what that means. Now that people have bestowed their power upon them, what are they going to do with it? This question will accompany new mayors and councillors for the whole journey of their terms.

At Resource Works we wish all those elected the best. No matter where they stand on any issue, they are there to act in the interest of those who put them there.

Since 2014, part of our mandate has been communicating with British Columba's elected municipal government officials. For the most part, this is seen in the form of our regular newsletters and articles covering developments in the field of natural resources and related foundational issues like transportation.

We attend UBCM every year to hear directly what's on the mind of municipal leaders and to provide supportive information when particular issues come to the fore, where we think our expertise could be helpful. In our inception phase, we employed a values modelling framework to perform baseline research on which to base our programs. In plain English, we wanted to make it easier for people  even if they didn't like each other or each other's ideas   to engage in dialogue. Because without it, it's hard to make any sort of progress on the issues that matter to our shared future.

Over the next four years, resource issues will continue to be of importance to all municipalities across the province, some more than others. Policies from all levels of government that affect the industrial tax base are always of interest. When it comes to addressing the biggest challenge of our time, municipalities are incredibly important simply because it is people who must act, and almost all those people live in municipalities.

So how does a municipality do its part? One challenge will be addressing how road transportation should evolve to meet stringent carbon policies while also getting us around affordably. Another is finding ways to heat and power homes and enterprises in an affordable and clean way. Whatever the challenge may be, Resource Works is here to provide ideas and convene a platform for dialogue.

Good luck to all the new municipal officials across BC. They put their name on the ballot and now are the choice of citizens to serve their communities. Resources have worked for BC in the past; together, we can find how they can work for our future.

Is your municipality or First Nations government interested in hearing more about local opportunities that stem from the future of natural resources? Drop us a line at [email protected] or contact Stewart Muir directly at [email protected].

Stewart Muir is the founder and executive director of the Vancouver-based Resource Works Society.

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