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Speaking for the BC Interior

Leaders of local governments are in Penticton this week to discuss issues and topics that directly impact their communities.

More than 140 delegates representing nine cities, 10 districts, four towns, seven villages, six regional districts and one resort municipality are taking part in the four-day Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA), convention at the trade and convention centre.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity to learn, and we also do a lot of partnerships," said Marg Spina, who was acclaimed for a second term as SILGA president on Thursday.

During the convention, members also looked at resolutions on medical marijuana, brought forward by West Kelowna and Lake Country,  invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels, suggested by Osoyoos, strategic wildfire prevention, suggested by the RDOS, as well as several other issues.

Penticton Mayor Garry Litke said he expected medical marijuana to be a hot topic.

"Health Canada is saying medical marijuana operations can be conducted on agricultural land and municipalities are concerned about that," he said.

A resolution brought forward by Penticton, has to do with ICBC claims, the mayor said.

ICBC is no longer paying the full claims submitted by municipalities for vehicular damage done to municipal infrastructure, meaning if actual expenses are not fully recovered, the remainder will be borne by muncipal tax payers.

So the request is that UBCM lobby the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to direct ICBC to reimburse the full costs of damages caused by their insured drivers.

Emergency resolutions on the implementation of the MMBC recycling program and changes in emergency response putting more pressure on communities were also considered.

Litke said a number of interesting speakers will be featured over the four days. On Wednesday, Bryan Yu, an economist with Central I Credit Union, gave a presentation on the economic outlook for BC and the Southern Interior.

"The prognosis was cautiously optimistic. It's not a boom, but we seem to be recovering slowly, thanks to the upsurge in the U.S. housing industry," Litke said.

Mike McNaney, WestJet vice president, addressed environment, fuel and government relations on Thursday afternoon. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was slated to speak later in the evening.

There were also discussion on BC mining and volunteer fire departments. On Friday morning, there will be breakout sessions on the Rob Ford Saga, focused on legal perspectives for elected members, and Penticton's downtown revitalization, provided by Anthony Haddad.

Litke said the learning opportunities, such as the mining panel talking about benefits of mining in the region,have been great.

The convention has also been a good way to showcase Penticton.

"We had people on board the SS Sicamous last night, and they didn't want to leave the boat," he said.

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