Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran is co-chair of BCUMC. (File photo)

Kelowna’s co-chair of B.C. Urban Mayor’s Caucus mostly happy with federal budget

Caucus pleased with commitments to housing, mental health, substance use, but not increased RCMP costs

The BC Urban Mayor’s Caucus (BCUMC) is praising Federal Budget 2022.

A statement from the BCUMC states the budget is committed to improving the affordability, quality of life, and sustainability of communities across Canada, including British Columbia. The caucus said it appreciated the commitment to helping cities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and build a better future for residents and opportunities for our businesses to continue to innovate and grow.

“The pandemic has only further exacerbated longstanding homelessness and affordable housing crises in our communities,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, co-chair BCUMC. “The Federal Government’s allocation of $10 billion to be spent over the coming five years on those priority issues will make an impact towards solutions.”

The BCUMC also said budget commitments towards affordable housing, mental health, substance use treatment, and climate action initiatives align closely with the BCUMC blueprint for B.C.’s Urban Future.

“Four of the five fastest-growing Canadian metropolitan areas are in B.C. and that rapid growth is accompanied by a housing affordability and supply crisis,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, co-Chair of the BCUMC. “Those commitments must be implemented in consultation with municipalities and without delay. Our Caucus particularly welcomes the promises of $4 billion to build 100,000 new homes in urban areas by 2025 and $2.7 billion for low-cost and co-op housing, and we call for those investments to be accelerated.”

Budget investments in mental health and substance use are essential to supporting the most vulnerable residents. Going forward, all levels of government need to collaborate on more ambitious complex care housing and supports at the nexus of mental health, substance use, and homelessness, the statement said.

Investing in low carbon initiatives, incentives, and an emphasis on electric vehicles, infrastructure, and fleets investments were also praised by the BCUMC.

Read More: Automakers say federal budget not doing enough to hit new electric vehicle targets

One item the BCUMC took issue with is that municipalities across B.C. and Canada serviced by the RCMP are facing multi-million-dollar invoices for retroactive pay they had no say in.

“Municipal policing is entirely funded through taxation and is the largest budget items for local governments,” said Basran. “As we anticipate receiving the invoice for the 24 per cent wage increase and retroactive pay, the millions of dollars are costs that will be passed directly to taxpayers adding another layer of costs and affordability impact. We continue to ask the Federal Government to review its decision by collaborating and supporting municipalities in paying for their decision.”

Read More: Federal budget the first important moment for NDP-Liberal pact, says finance critic


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