Have lobbyist will influence?

The Sunshine Coast Regional District may be adding its name to the growing list of local governments who have hired lobbyists to liase with the Campbell administration. Last week, the district posted a request for expresssions of interest on BC Bid for a "professional public affairs advocacy and communications services" company to "bring about effective legislation for watershed protection on crown and private managed forest lands within watersheds." According to the document, the company would "in consultation with SCRD staff and legal counsel, assist in writing letters and lobbying provincial government to achieve our goals and objectives."

In an interview with Public Eye, community services general manager Paul Fenwick explained, "It's probably the most significant policy issue or change we're trying to change." In fact, the district successfully passed a resolution at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities 2004 annual general meeting calling on the government "to enact legislation that empowers local government water purveyors to protect the communiyt watersheds used for potable water." But so far, such legislation hasn't been introduced.

As a result, Mr. Fenwick says, "We want to see, through the expressions of interest and what comes in, if there might be some expertise or ideas where we might be more effective. It's a specialized field trying to work with government to get change. And maybe a little expert help might be useful to us." Moreoever, he says the district needs a government relations contractor because it doesn't have enough staff to effectively lobby government by itself.

Asked whether the need to hire such a contractor means the province isn't paying enough attention to local concerns, Mr. Fenwick replied, "I guess you could draw that conclusion. But there are examples where they've listened well. For instance, our regional district is one of the fastest growing on a percentage basis. And the Minister of Community Services Ida Chong have supported us getting funding for a phased regional growth strategy. So there's no trouble there. And she's been very supportive. But we're dealing here with what seems to be a very entrenched policy of the province. And we're trying to nudge them in a different direction."

According to the lobbyist registry, other local governments employing government relations contractors include the cities of Colwood, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Vancouver and Vancouver, as well as the districts of Kent, Kitimat, North Vancouver, Squamish, West Vancouver. The following is a complete copy of relevant portion of the aforementioned request.

***

Sunshine Coast Regional District
Request for Expression
of Interest
Number: 07 - 067

For
Advocacy & Communication Services
For the Project Titled:
Watersheds Policy Advocacy

Issue Date:
July 17, 2007
Closing Date and Location:
One complete copy of the submission should be received by:
4:00 PM local time, July 30, 2007
at
Sunshine Coast Regional District
Robert McKee, Purchasing Officer
1975 Field Road
Sechelt, BC
V0N 3A1
SCRD Request for Expression of Interest #07 067
Watershed Policy Advocacy Consultant

1. INTRODUCTION
Sunshine Coast Regional District ("SCRD") operates services to provide potable water to its residents and is generally interested in protecting watersheds from forestry and other activities that may be damaging in the short or longer term.

2. STATEMENT of SCOPE

2.1 General Project Definition
The purpose of this Request for Expressions of Interest is to solicit submissions from qualified respondents who are able to provide professional pubic affairs advocacy and communications services. The requirements of this research are ongoing and any contract entered into will be until December 31, 2007. Expressions of Interest should contain the following information:

* Experience of the company and personnel
* References
* Ability to conduct the work and to meet the schedule requirements. * Briefing of any pertinent development and/or project experience of the company. Break out the estimated service fee and costs for each project deliverable.

2.2 Project Deliverables

1. Provide services to join forces with other regional governments to bring about effective legislation for watershed protection on crown and private managed forest lands within watersheds (starting immediately ongoing until December 31. 2007)

2. In consultation with SCRD staff and legal counsel, assist in writing letters and lobbying provincial government to achieve our goals and objectives (starting immediately ongoing until December 31. 2007)

3. On an on call basis, provide advice/research to the SCRD Joint Watershed Management Advisory Committee or SCRD staff regarding communicating to the public and others regarding watershed issues..
SCRD Request for Expression of Interest #07 067

2.3 Mandatory Professional Services

1. Providing a strategy or strategic advice (communications campaign) to lobby for support and legislative change regarding the control of watersheds for local government.

2. Preparing selected correspondence and newsletters.

3. Assisting with a communications campaign.

4. Coaching SCRD staff and Directors on how to interact with senior governments and to implement the strategy to seek policy changes.

5. Companies must submit a company prospectus which highlights knowledge, skills, abilities, training, professional and other certification and experience related to the field of work described herein.

6. Provide references, ideally from three different clients, for whom similar work have been completed within five years; including name of client organization, name of main contact and phone number and a description of the project.

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