The mayors of B.C.’s largest cities want the federal government to address some key issues facing urban areas.
On Sept. 8, less than two weeks before the Sept. 20 election, the B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus released its calls to action for federal leaders to consider during this election season. The group is calling on the next Parliament to take action on key issues that urban areas face, including mental health and substance use, affordable housing, public transit, and the local government finance system.
The caucus, co-chaired by Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, is asking for the federal government to keep urban issues in mind when they form government.
“Our hope is that whichever party forms government, the platform promises are quickly turned into positive action that will benefit our residents and businesses in the throes of the fourth wave of the pandemic and through recovery,” Basran said.
The caucus’ calls to action largely focus on housing and include:
• Making the Rapid Housing Initiative permanent with at least a $2-billion investment a year until chronic homelessness is no longer an issue
• Implementing a non-market acquisition strategy so the non-profit sector can purchase low-end-of-market rental buildings and preserve them as affordable
• Developing and funding an urban, rural and northern Indigenous strategy so urban Indigenous organizations can provide culturally supportive housing
• Using federal tax policy to incentivize construction of more market rental units that can be reached by local wages
• Partnering with B.C. to fund complex care housing and provide adequate and appropriate supports for people who are falling through the cracks
Helps said Canada has one of the most severe housing supply challenges.
“This is showing up in our cities where hard-working residents can’t afford to live in them. We know local governments have a role to play in increasing housing supply and we’re committed to that, but we need strong federal policy and funding to assist.”
The B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus is comprised of the mayors of Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria. Combined, those cities represent more than half of the province’s total population.