B.C. mayors outline 2020 ‘blueprint’ for province’s urban future

On Wednesday, the B.C. Urban Mayors caucus, including Kelowna mayor Colin Basran, laid out its blueprint for the future. Travis Lowe

Affordable housing and police wellness checks were among the items at a caucus meeting involving the province’s urban mayors on Wednesday.

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps laid out the pillars of the urban mayors’ agenda.

“The four key priorities are mental health, substance use and treatment, affordable housing, public transit and a new fiscal relationship between local government and the provincial government,” said Helps.

Click to play video: 'Affordable housing concerns'
Affordable housing concerns

Added Kelowna mayor Colin Basran: “We want to raise those to the attention of the leaders of all the parties and it doesn’t matter to us who becomes the next government, as long as these issues are looked after.”

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From his office at City Hall in Kelowna, Basran said the B.C. urban mayors are non-partisan while helping outline the group’s blueprint for the province’s urban future.

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“There is not enough housing in our community for the people who live and work in them,” Basran said during a zoom meeting with the media.

Topping the 15 mayors’ list of community concerns is how the next provincial government will deal with the current mental health crisis.

“We need to see it as a top priority on each of their platforms,” Basran said.

Click to play video: 'Victoria councillor challenges colleagues to take public transit'
Victoria councillor challenges colleagues to take public transit

Part of the group’s blueprint included requesting changes to the way police perform mental wellness checks

“While reviewing changes to the police act, consider alternative approaches for responding to mental health and substance-use calls in the community on a 24/7 basis,” said Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart.

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Second on the list was affordable housing — another social issue.

“We need continued social housing, to help those on the streets but it goes well beyond that,” said Basran.

Click to play video: 'Variety has seen grant requests for mental wellness double'
Variety has seen grant requests for mental wellness double

More accessible public transit and a broader range of fiscal financing for municipalities rounded out the blueprint.

The urban mayors say their residents represent a big part of the cultural, social and economic engine of the province.

“And so what we are hoping is that the parties will implement these plans if they become government,” said Basran, “and every British Columbian will be better as a result.”

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