Coun. Ben Geselbracht was elected as a UBCM director-at-large last week. (File photo/Submitted)

Nanaimo councillor elected as UBCM director at large

Coun. Ben Geselbracht now tasked with lobbying the province

A Nanaimo city councillor can now say he’s part of the UBCM executive.

Coun. Ben Geselbracht was elected as a director-at-large during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention last week in Vancouver.

As a director, Geselbracht is now part of what is known as the UBCM executive and will be responsible for lobbying the provincial government to act on UBCM resolutions.

“I’m stoked to be advocating for our community and getting some good measures in to make our city more sustainable for everyone,” Geselbracht told the News Bulletin.

A total of 13 positions are elected to the UBCM executive, including president, first vice-president and five directors.

Port Alberni councillor Helen Poon was also elected as a director while Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was named as president.

Geselbracht said he had to run a campaign during the convention, adding that he campaigned on environmental sustainability, climate action and addressing issues around homelessness and addiction. He said he’s looking forward to his new role.

“I want to try and build a stronger collaboration with the province,” he said.

The term length for a director-at-large is one year according to Geselbracht.

UBCM’s annual convention brings elected officials from municipalities across the province together, where there are opportunities to meet with various provincial ministers and attend workshops during the week-long event.

Coun. Ian Thorpe, who is also Regional District of Nanaimo board chairman, attended UBCM as a representative for both the city and RDN and said this year’s convention was “very interesting” and informative.

“We had some good study sessions and the resolutions are always interesting,” he said. “I also got to meet with a number of ministers on behalf of the city and the regional district, so it is always useful.”

During the conventions, UBCM delegates also vote on whether to endorse various recommendations brought forward by different municipalities.

This year, the City of Nanaimo saw proposed resolutions on property taxation, indoor agricultural fertilization practices and cannabis plants use on agricultural land endorsed at UBCM.

The city’s proposed resolution on property taxation, if adopted by the province, would give municipalities the ability to adjust property tax rates by establishing “density brackets” in their jurisdiction, as an incentive to reduce sprawl.

Additionally, the Nanaimo Regional District’s proposed resolutions on regulating and enforcing vehicle parking on provincial roads, traffic calming, traffic enforcement on rural roads and improvements to district governance policy were also endorsed at UBCM.

If approved by the province, the RDN’s resolution on regulating and enforcing vehicle parking on provincial roads would allow municipalities to issue parking tickets to vehicles parked on provincial roads.

Next year’s UBCM convention is scheduled to take place Sept. 21-25 in Victoria. 
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