“You have set the bar high for future events,” Regional District of Central Kootenay chair John Kettle said on Sunday, congratulating organizers of last week’s Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments annual conference.
More than 200 delegates and guests drove into Creston April 9 to take part in the three-day event, with most of the meetings and events held at Creston and District Community Complex.
“The substantive meetings, venues, tours, culinary delights, entertainment, local wineries and attitude of ‘welcome to the Creston Valley’ were not only contagious but they very clearly showed that small communities can hold an event of this type,” Kettle said.
Delegates started off April 9 with a choice of four tours designed to showcase the diverse Creston Valley economy. Buses transported groups to Columbia Brewery and the waste water treatment plant (which the brewery partners in funding), Wynnwood Cellars winery and Wynnwood sawmill, Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery (where Kootenay Meadows was also represented), and Wayleen Farms dairy and the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.
Following an afternoon of presentations, a reception and barn dance was held at Creston Flats Stables.
Thursday’s schedule was packed with meetings and presentations, highlighted by keynote speaker Stockwell Day, whose 25-year political career included stints in the Alberta government and Canadian Parliament. He held cabinet positions in both.
He started on a light note.
“I’m not used to warm reception,” he joked. “Normally in political life you stand up and get booed and jeered. And that’s just from your colleagues!”
Day spoke of the importance Canadians thinking about what kind of government they want.
“There are different types of systems that worked better, or worked well. There is no perfect system. There is no perfect political party. Every system has its drawbacks.”
But systems that allow for free markets and encourage business to thrive have strong track records of improving standards of living, he said, citing South Korea, West Germany and Hong Kong as examples.
Free enterprise can produce innovation more quickly and at a lower cost, he said. Google Maps, for example, is a recent indication.
“Do you have any idea how many years it would take just (for governments) to write the regulations?” he asked. “It would take years to decide what kind of helmet the guy driving the little camera car would have to wear!”
Interference from governments at all levels can reduce choice. He said he once visited at community in which local government had refused to allow a Tim Hortons franchise within its boundaries.
“Where did elected people get the sense that they get the choice about what kind of coffee you are going to drink?” he said. “I should be the one who decides if I want to eat fatty foods. Or three donuts. Other people shouldn’t be making that decision for me.”
Over-regulation, he said, is a symptom of too much government. Elected officials should have faith in their constituents, working to ease their burdens, not increase them.
“When we make regulations we should be asking, ‘Who will die if we don’t put this regulation in place?’ Every regulation is a hurdle and sometimes there are so many hurdles you don’t want to get in the race.”
He exhorted governments to keep peoples needs at the forefront.
“We need to protect the environment from people who want to hurt us and we need taxes to run our institutions,” he said. “But we need to become more sensitive to the needs of the people who elected us and less sensitive to the needs of administration.”
A gala dinner and dance wound up the festivities in the Creston Room on April 10. Creston Coun. Wes Graham was honoured with a lifetime AKBLG membership for his service as a board member and president of the organization.
The conference ended at 1 p.m. Friday after a morning of workshops and presentations by BC Hydro and a liquid natural gas panel.
“The passing of the ‘crown’ for best AKBLG ever was acknowledged by former holders of this event and should serve as lifelong kudos to those who worked so hard over this past year,” Kettle said.