Getting a handle on the new NDP government’s stance on everything from homelessness to the drug overdose crisis is top of mind for mayors and councillors streaming into Vancouver for this week’s UBCM convention.
Kelowna council is alive to these hot button issues, having long struggled with the high cost of living and the high rate of drug overdose deaths. But equally pressing said Mayor Colin Basran is finding out where the new government stands on Kelowna-specific projects that had the support of the NDP’s predecessors.
“This UBCM may be more important than others in the past,” said Basran, who will be meeting with Premier John Horgan and other ministers to discuss areas of “mutual interest.”
Basran readily admits this city has long benefitted from having provincial power players, such as former premier and Kelowna West MLA Christy Clark, firmly rooted in the valley. Provincial money has been made available for a number of city projects that are, in some cases, only just getting underway.
Among them, said Basran, is the the water integration plan and strategy. It aims to bring together five area water purveyors and is reliant on provincial grants and has been regularly identified as a top priority.
Basran is also hoping to speak with about the city’s Journey Home strategy, which aims to provide a systems-based approach to dealing with homelessness.
Homelessness is an area the current government seems to have turned some attention toward.
The program for the week-long convention indicates there are multiple sessions on housing, homelessness, the problem of short-term vacation rentals and their impact on local rentals.
The UBCM convention is a forum for provincial politicians to connect with politicians from the province’s 161 cities, towns and villages.