Elected officials resolved to work together on homelessness, invasive species and other issues this weekend at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in Nanaimo.
Resolutions from member governments are being debated Saturday and Sunday, April 15-16.
With homelessness being seen in many Island municipalities, a City of Courtenay motion passed, requesting that AVICC and UBCM leadership broker a meeting between Island mayors, regional district chairs, First Nations chiefs, B.C. Housing and B.C. government officials to demand a strategy to tackle homelessness and its effects on the Island.
Doug Hillian, Courtenay councillor, said the issue is familiar to all AVICC members and it is only worsening. Downtown businesses and residents are feeling the side effects, he said, and a co-ordinated approach, with the province taking the lead, is needed so members aren’t fighting one another for “scarce resources.”
“We need a co-ordinated approach so that we don’t have one community being told ‘We don’t build tiny homes’ while another community does that,” Hillian said. “We need a co-ordinated approach so that we’ve got a solid plan that addresses the housing needs of each of our communities in a timely manner, so that we can get people off the streets, whether it’s complex care, supportive housing, subsidized housing … so that our downtown communities and our residents living nearby can continue to feel safe.”
A resolution from the City of Port Alberni passed, asking UBCM and AVICC to call on the B.C. Ministry of Health to work with local governments and B.C. Emergency Health Services to improve co-ordination of emergency health services and call for adequate funding and staffing so municipalities and regions are not overburdened.
A City of Nanaimo resolution on extreme weather shelters was approved. It requests that UBCM ask B.C. Housing, the B.C. government and provincial health authorities to support local governments with commitments to provide resources for dedicated and pre-determined long-term locations for warming and cooling centres and qualified professionals versed in assisting people with health needs such as mental health and substance use issues.
Scotch broom removal is a shared concern for Island communities and a Town of Qualicum Beach resolution asks AVICC and UBCM to work with the B.C. government to form guidelines to combat the “aggressive spread” of the invasive plant across the province, “including implementing broom-fire fire breaks along long stretches of broom” and encourage local governments to manage the plant inside city boundaries.
A City of Parksville resolution requesting the province partner with energy providers to develop a plan and dedicated subsidies for local governments to establish a sufficient supply of clean energy sources for agriculture was defeated.
Delegates from more than 50 communities across coastal B.C. came to Nanaimo to attend the AGM, noted a press release.