Skip to content

North Central Local Government convention kicks off in Smithers

Conference opens with walking tour and unveiling of a gift from Chetwynd to Smithers
Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill and District of Chetwynd Mayor Allen Courtoreille (centre) and other NCLGA convention delegates pose with “Lion Fish” a chainsaw carving by Ontario artist Steven Kenzora gifted to Smithers by Chetwynd. The town is co-hosting the annual convention this week with the District of Houston and Regional District of Bulkley Nechako. (Grant Harris/The Interior News)

The 2024 North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) Convention kicked off in Smithers with a walking tour for delegates May 13 that included unveiling a gift from the District of Chetwynd.

The gift, a chainsaw carving called “Lion Fish” by Ontario artist Steven Kenzora was installed at the park adjacent to the Smithers Art Gallery and Bulkley Valley Museum.

Chetwynd has been hosting the Chetwynd International Chainsaw Carving Competition, which annually features 12 carvers (four Canadian, four American and four international) for 17 years. It has become a tradition for the district to gift carvings to other municipalities.

“On behalf of the Town of Smithers, I gratefully accept the gift of the beautiful wood carving from the District of Chetwynd,” said Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill. “We are delighted to receive the carving and to become a stop on Chetwynd’s chainsaw carving tour. We thank Mayor Allen Courtoreille, [Chetwynd] council, and the entire community of Chetwynd.”

The annual four-day convention, being co-hosted by Smithers, the District of Houston and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako, is an opportunity for local government officials from throughout the northern and central parts of the province to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Advancing Northern Communities - Reconciliation, Renewal, and Resilience,” which Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill said “speaks to the need for strong leadership for our collective future.”

The keynote speaker for the opening reception on Monday was Mary French. French is a “Coast Salish connector, communicator, and relationship builder with deep public and private sector ties across many regions of Canada,” according to the convention program.

She is a member of Homalco First Nation on Vancouver Island and former RCMP police officer. Her law enforcement career had a particular focus on community, family and children’s safety.

“In all contexts, Mary is a fierce advocate for Indigenous partnerships, engagement, and building forward-looking and practical solutions that enhance future opportunities for Canadian communities and workers,” the program states.

Sessions for the week include a broad range of topics including but not limited to: housing, the future of forestry, labour market attraction and retention, electrification investment, tourism and business improvement, emergency/disaster management, and community safety.

On Thursday delegates will hear from both the provincial official opposition represented by BC United leader Kevin Falcon and the government represented by Stikine MLA and minister of Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen.

Delegates also had a chance to choose from various tours to get a taste of the Bulkley Valley on Monday. These included the Wetzin’kwa Community Forests, a Witsuwit’en Cultural Tour and Toboggan Creek Fish Hatchery Visit and a District of Houston Silverthorne Lake Adventure.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
Read more