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Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall joins BC Mayors in calling for provincial housing solutions

BC Urban Mayors make renewed and urgent call for provincial support

Prince George’s Mayor Lyn Hall is one of 13 mayors from the BC Urban Mayors Caucus (BCUMC) who 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.

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.

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.

The BCUMC has now released a video to reiterate their call. 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 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.”

BCUMC says residents with complex needs often 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.”

Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, and Teri Smith, President of the Business Improvement Areas of BC also issued a statement in support of the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus call for complex care housing.

“Access to housing is critical for the health of our communities. Part of the solution is more complex care options for those who require extra support. As a result of the pandemic, the need for more complex care options is greater than ever before. Cutting red tape to develop tailored housing options with urgency, is therefore critical,” said Fiona Famulak.

“Business Improvement Areas of BC (BIABC), which represents more than 50 business communities across the province, is supportive of the work of the BC Urban Mayor’s Caucus to find innovative solutions like complex care housing to restore the health and wellbeing of our communities for all. Increasing homelessness, street disorder, property crime, violence, mental health and addiction-related issues have reached a critical point in our downtowns, main streets and commercial districts. We all need to work together to protect our communities and those most vulnerable,” said Teri Smith.

Along with the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus, the organizations say they are urging the province to move quickly on this urgent issue for business members and communities.