Local grassroots movement Together We Stand is echoing the call to create a leadership table approach to tackle the city’s social issues.
On Monday, April 25, Prince George Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Corrigall called for city council to convene a "Team Prince George Leadership Table" to tackle the city's social issues - from homelessness and addictions to public safety and cleanliness.
He said the group would replace the Mayors Select Committee on a Safe, Clean and Inclusive Community which was created following the November 2019 council meeting held specifically to discuss the issue.
Together We Stand said it is also calling on the City of Prince George to convene a representative table for the express purpose of mitigating significant issues impacting the community as it pertains to deaths due to drug toxicity, homelessness, addiction, public safety and harassment and cleanliness.
The group said it agrees that the Mayors Select Committee on a Safe, Clean and Inclusive Community has been underutilized and has not been convened for months while the issues continue to evolve and grow.
“Dozens of people in our community have died as a result of this crisis, families are destroyed and the pain within Prince George is escalating. We are calling on the City of Prince George to immediately create a ‘Representative Prince George Leadership Table’ to deliberate and take action on people-centred and evidence-bases approaches to shape a safer and more inclusive community,” said Henry Joseph, an Elder and member of Together We Stand.
“Reconciliation must be at the heart of our approach.”
Corrigall called for the table to include members of city council, MPs, MLAs, representatives from Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, Prince George and North District RCMP, Northern Health, Downtown Prince George, Prince George Fire Rescue and Fraser-Fort George Regional District.
He also commended the councillors Terri McConnachie, Brian Skakun, Cori Ramsay and Kyle Sampson for a recent call to action on the matter in the aftermath of the Easter Monday fire that destroyed a downtown business and has since been deemed an act of arson.
Together We Stand is requesting that invitations for the proposed table be made to leaders of Indigenous organizations and those who serve the de-housed community including United Northern Drug Users (UNDU), POUNDS Project, Central Interior Native Health, Positive Living North, Carrier Sekani Family Services, Friendship Centre, Community Partners Addressing Homelessness, and the First Nations Health Authority.
“Together We Stand and partners have been consistently communicating with elected officials at all levels of Government regarding our crisis but responses from government are underwhelming and too late. Municipal policies have only exacerbated and made our crisis worse,” said Julian Legere, member of Together We Stand.
“It is now time to work together to understand issues at their core and commit to creating an evidence-based, person-centred plan that is designed with de-housed and addicted persons at the table. This is a crisis and lives are at stake.”
According to Mary Schultz, from the Tl'azt’en nation and a citizen of Prince George, “at the end of the day, we all want a healthy and safe community for all residents. We believe a Representative Leadership Table comes with a significant level of accountability for all parties and ensures a high level of collaboration.”
-with files from Arthur Williams, Prince George Citizen