Fort St. John, BC ? The theme of the 2006 North Central Municipal Association (NCMA) annual convention was ?Fueling the Future? and while the theme was chosen to reflect the energetic growth and development taking place in northeastern BC, it could also reflect what delegates at this year?s conference felt about attending the Fort St. John convention. Speakers and panelists addressed many of the key issues that will impact northern communities in the future while the delegates considered 41 resolutions encouraging the provincial and federal governments to take action to deal with key issues. The resolutions passed by delegates will be sent to the Union of BC Municipalities for consideration at the provincial local government convention this October.

Some of the key issues discussed and debated include; taxation, policing, transportation, communication, social and health issues, mountain pine beetle activities, fish farming, tire recycling and a host of other issues common to communities in the upper two-thirds of the province. Speakers included; Deborah Grey, former Member of Parliament, Hon. Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Carole James, Leader of the Official Opposition, Blair Lekstrom, current MLA for Peace River South and former NCMA President, Art Meyer, President, Enbridge Gateway Pipelines Inc., UBCM President Marvin Hunt, and many, many more.

Several of the NCMA member communities were recognized for milestone anniversaries. Special recognition was given to the District of Tumbler Ridge is celebrating 25 years, the Village of Hazelton is celebrating 50 years, and the District of Fort St. James is celebrating their 200th anniversary.

The Village of Valemount was the first winner of a new award that the NCMA will be awarding annually to one of its members for the best-crafted resolution. The ?Gold Star? award was presented to Valemount Mayor Jeanette Townsend for her community?s resolution on Downtown Revitalization. The keeper version of the plaque was sponsored by Van Horlick?s Trophy & Gift House, and will be displayed in the Valemount village office.

Elections for positions on the NCMA Executive were also held during the convention. Outgoing President Mary Sjostrom of Quesnel received a standing ovation from delegates for her contributions to the organization during her two terms as president. Sjostrom says, ?I would like to compliment the NCMA staff and the host community for another well done convention, and I am really looking forward to working with the new Board of Directors.?

New NCMA President Craig Caruso of Stewart states, ?This year?s convention was outstanding from many standpoints. The quality of the speakers was superb. The diversity of the issues discussed and debated reflects the challenges faced by communities throughout central and northern BC. The solutions put forth to help resolve many of these challenges also reflects the willingness of local government leaders in the North to serve their communities and work with the provincial and federal governments to support these communities. The effort delivered by the host community, the City of Fort St. John was fantastic. Delegates worked hard and enjoyed the hospitality of the Energetic City.?

The 52nd NCMA Annual General Meeting & Convention will be hosted by The City of Williams Lake and Cariboo Regional District from May 2nd ? 5th, 2007.