Vanderhoof councillor Brian Frenkel talks with outgoing Union of B.C. Municipalities president Maja Tait at the group’s first virtual conference, broadcast from Victoria, Sept. 22, 2020. (UBCM)

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

After guiding the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention through hundreds of debates and votes by a glitch-prone province-wide video conference, Vanderhoof councillor Brian Frenkel took on the leadership of the group for what promises to be a difficult year for local councils.

Frenkel succeeded Sooke Mayor Maja Tait as UBCM president Thursday (Sept. 24), with encouraging words for delegates after a convention disrupted by a sudden provincial election call on the event’s first day. The convention had already gone through a jump to online delivery due to COVID-19, and then the election disrupted its key function, hundreds of meetings with cabinet ministers who had to campaign for re-election instead.

Meetings with ministers were set up the previous week as part of the online arrangements for the convention.

“I have to tell you, when we started talking about a virtual convention back in May, I was like, who’s really going to sign up?” Frenkel said from an almost empty Victoria Conference Centre. “But I’ve got an answer for that today. We had over 1,000 delegates and local government officials sign up for our convention.”

Frenkel listed highlights of the first virtual convention, including provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s disclosure that she has dealt with harassment and even death threats while imposing orders and restrictions that have kept the coronavirus pandemic under control in B.C. He passed on a quote from author Margaret Atwood, the convention keynote speaker who had this advice for delegates: “Local government, you’d better get out your casseroles.”

RELATED: Dr. Bonnie Henry says she has had abuse, death threats

RELATED: B.C. Green leader says NDP has abandoned environment

Frenkel stressed the non-partisan role of the UBCM, which has increased its importance in recent years, administering provincial programs.

“As we fight our way through COVID-19 and any other issue that might arise in the future, I am very confident in UBCM’s relationship with the provincial government,” Frenkel said. “In just over a month, we will know which party will form government, and who our next premier will be. Regardless of which party or which leader, the executive of UBCM will reach out to all parties and all MLAs to communicate the shared priorities of our membership.”

He congratulated Tait on serving through a pandemic that has severely affected communities and businesses, while handling her community’s needs and those of a young child as well.

“I need to really thank the District of Vanderhoof, mayor and council and staff there, because without you still holding up the fort at home, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsUBCM

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(BC Hydro outage map)
UPDATE: Power restored to more than 3,000 Sooke residents

Two polling stations impacted by outage

Christopher Mauro, right, assistant manager of the Sidney Save-On-Foods, and Nick Luney, youth initiatives director for the Victoria Pride Society, celebrate the success of a pandemic fundraiser for the local Pride Society. (Courtesy Save-On Foods)
Grocery managers across the Island pull together for Queer youth

With Victoria Pride Parade and Festival cancelled, Save-On-Foods staff found a way to raise funds

The mottled sky, the lights coming on at water’s edge and in Victoria West, and the reflections on the building windows make for a scenic sunset photo in Victoria’s Selkirk neighbourhood. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Sunset on the Selkirk in Victoria

Send your photos to editor@vicnews.com for a chance to see them in the paper

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read