Friday, September 29, 2017

Wildfire recovery, overdose concerns, economy and housing issues among themes for Premier's UBCM address

Premier John Horgan delivered the final address of the UBCM convention on
Friday morning, touching on a range of themes for the delegates

(Image from Gov't of BC Facebook page)

John Horgan delivered his first address to the UBCM convention as Premier of the province on Friday morning, providing a twenty seven minute overview of some of the key issues of the summer and how the NDP government plans to approach them.

Themes of rebuilding from the summer's wildfires and  action on the opioid overdose crisis in the province, citing statistics that will show that over the past year 876 lives have been lost to overdose, noting that if today is a normal day, four more British Columbians will die by way of overdose.

"Most of those that are affected often die alone, many of them are Indigenous people and if we're going to address this challenge that affects the rich and the poor, the young and the old we're going to need a  concerted effort. And that's why, one of my first orders of business was to appoint a dedicated minister of mental health and addictions, so that every day someone is focuses singularly on addressing this problems" ... "If someone reaches out for help, we should be there to help them. So starting today I am announcing a plan that will help communities in crisis by establishing  a new innovation fund, so that the regions that are hardest hit will have the resources they need to open up treatment centres so that we have places for people to go"

The government followed up on those notes with some background items posted to the government website after the address see here and here

As well, the Premier touted the need for solutions for affordable housing dominated much of the address, with Mr. Horgan making note of the need for all levels of government to work together on the issue.

On homelessness Mr. Horgan announced a program to address the crisis, with the first projects to be put in place in Vancouver, Surrey and Smithers.

"I'm excited to say today that we are announcing a plan to build 2,000 modular homes with 24/7 funding over the next three years. Starting with 600 homes here in the City of Vancouver, 150 homes in Surrey and more in Smithers and any other community in this room who believes that a modular solution to the homelessness crisis in your community will fit with your package of solutions, we invite you to approach the government to get part of that program"

More on that initiative can be reviewed here.

The Premier reiterated his campaign commitment towards development of 114,000 units of all types over the next ten years and reinforced the need to work with communities and developers to achieve that goal.

Economic development also made for a current in the address, with the Premier noting that the province will contribute to efforts to lure Amazon north for their plans of a second headquarters.

Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal received a shout out from Premier Horgan, who relayed some thoughts on the recent expansion of the DP World facility in the city, as well as some observations on the theme of resource sharing benefits.

"DP World Canada is investing in the Fairview Terminal in Prince Rupert that will expand by fifty percent our capacity to move goods and services from the north. There's a lot of excitement in the Northwest corridor, I had some very exciting meetings yesterday about sharing resource wealth, sharing the benefits and abundance of British Columbia with everybody in the interest of everybody. And I am excited to work with everyone in this room to make sure that the innovation that you want to see in your community is supported not just by me, but also by my illustriously haired friends in Ottawa. Because I believe that all levels of government working together can deliver the type of British Columbia, a better British Columbia for all of us"

As the premier was delivering his statement to the convention, the North West British Columbia Resource Benefits Alliance was rolling out a statement of their own on the issue, offering hope of a six month timeline for negotiations.

To bring his message to an end the Premier issued a call to the delegates in attendance to make a difference in the lives of those that live around them in their communities, vowing to take advantage of his opportunity to work with those in the room to build a better BC.

The full address from the Premier can be reviewed here.

A review of some of the talking points from the UBCM convention can be found from our archive page.

A wider overview of British Columbia's political issues can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

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