THIRTEEN mayors representing more than 55 per cent of British Columbians are once again calling on the provincial government for the urgent implementation of complex care housing solutions to support the most vulnerable residents in their communities. They released a video on Tuesday to reiterate their call.
Since being formed in the summer of 2020, the mayors have been in conversations with the ministries of Mental Health and Addiction, Health, Housing, Municipal Affairs, Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Justice, advocating to see appropriate housing and supports for people with complex needs to be operational in a matter of months, not years.
As a unified voice on critical issues facing urban British Columbia communities, the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus (BCUMC) is a non-partisan group of mayors from Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.
Urging the Province to take immediate action, the video highlights the strain that leaving those with complex needs out on the streets is having on our communities and on the vulnerable people requiring care.
“We know the Province is acting on a complex care housing framework, and we appreciate that we were invited to participate in the early formative conversations as the Province developed the model of care. We are hopeful that the provincial government will make an announcement soon,” said Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria and BCUMC Co-Chair. “We can’t stress enough how urgently our communities need this complex care in place.”
Residents with complex needs have overlapping mental health, substance use, trauma and acquired brain injuries and they are often left to experience homelessness. They do not fit into current supportive housing models, they do not fit within long-term healthcare systems, and if they commit crimes, they do not fit within the overloaded justice system which perpetuates a catch and release cycle.
“Together each of our communities are on the frontlines experiencing the same impact of gaps in the health, housing and justice system,” said Colin Basran, Mayor of Kelowna and BCUMC Co-Chair. “Our most vulnerable are falling through the cracks. Municipalities have invested in supportive housing, funded more police and bylaw officers and created policies to increase inclusion in our communities and yet more needs to be done and for that we need the Province’s support.”
Local retailers, restaurants and hotels, who have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, are also experiencing the frontline impacts of the gaps, with increased erratic behaviour, open drug use, crime and theft occurring outside their place of business.
The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus Blueprint for British Columbia’s Urban Future, outlines four key priorities for urban communities across the province:
- Mental Health, Substance Use and Treatment
- Affordable Housing
- Public Transit
- A New Fiscal Framework
To Learn more, visit www.bcurbanmayorscaucus.ca.