The outgoing leader of the BC NDP said his government decided not to use the annual local governance conference as a way to reveal big announcements. Instead, the premier said he used it as an opportunity to listen to municipalities and carry their ideas forward until they become government commitments.
Former BC Liberal premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark were known for making signature commitments, including a Massey Tunnel replacement and removing tolls from the Coquihalla Highway.
“What we have tried to do is turned that on its head,” said Horgan. “We have come and said what can we do for you. We don’t think about saving announcements for this week.”
Horgan is waiting for B.C. New Democrats to choose a new party leader and will be stepping down from the premier’s job once the new leader is in place. Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby and climate activist Anjali Appadurai are running to replace him.
The premier acknowledged there are serious issues in the province that need addressing, including housing pressures, public safety worries and shortages in mental health supports.
“We see in our streets citizens who desperately need more help than we can give,” he told delegates.
“We know we cannot resolve those problems by just getting to tomorrow, but we do need make sure they get housing and mental health supports.”
Horgan said he has spent the week working with municipal leaders to collaborate on issues the province can address. He told stories about trips from across B.C., including to Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof, and what he learned along the way as a political leader.
“As we depart we need to ensure we leave the sense of collaboration. The only way we can solve the problems of today,” said the premier.
Housing, crime, homelessness, addiction and health-care issues have all been popular topics of discussion for those at the Whistler convention.
A speech by B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday was met with lukewarm reviews by rural mayors, who are concerned with the province’s health-care crisis.
B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau addressed the convention Wednesday and BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon took the stage Thursday.
”Whether it’s our teetering health-care system or the dramatic increases in street disorder or the unabated affordability crisis, members of the public don’t want to hear it’s somebody else’s fault,” said Falcon.
“They just want us to work together, be partners and fix it.”