This week will see the kickoff of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention. Although the majority of the public are likely unfamiliar with the UBCM, this organization and this annual convention has a massive impact on the function and operation of towns, regional districts and municipalities across the province, including our own region.
Starting Sept. 14, councillors, mayors, directors and staff from Regional Districts and municipalities as well as First Nations will come together to debate and vote on resolutions, attend trade shows, issue awards, and consult with the provincial government on politics and policy. This convention is both a celebration of the province’s local accomplishments, but also a crucial platform where communities across B.C. come together to jointly guide the direction and future of our province.
Many things this year will be the same, but a lot will also look different. While B.C. continues to tackle the fourth wave of the pandemic, the decision was made to host the convention virtually once again this year. However, B.C. municipalities are preparing to look to our future without COVID, and the needs of our communities are rapidly changing. While COVID remains an incredible challenge to our province, B.C. municipalities are looking to tackle things like forestry policy, wildfire supports, healthcare, and ensuring our businesses and organizations get the supports they need to make a full economic recovery.
Once again, my colleagues and I in the Opposition caucus are making sure we offer UBCM attendees the opportunity to consult with the members of the Official Opposition through a series of roundtables that will offer local officials and attendees a forum to discuss some of the growing issues and concerns in this province, including public safety, access to healthcare and affordable childcare, housing, transportation, and how to build a workforce and economy that will move our province into and through a post-pandemic world.
As the Opposition Critic for Social Development and Poverty Reduction, I recognize that the necessities that ensure a quality of life are becoming less affordable and accessible for everyday British Columbians — access to healthcare and affordable childcare, social supports, and crucially, affordable housing. After more than four years, John Horgan and the NDP have failed to deliver on housing and childcare promises, which are having damaging effects on families across the province.
Families are on years-long waitlists for childcare spaces, the housing file is in shambles, rural healthcare is on the verge of collapse and the challenges around mental health and addictions is of great worry. These and many more are concerns that B.C. municipalities want to be brought before John Horgan and the NDP government, and the BC Liberals are ready to listen and — more importantly — communicate these concerns to the NDP in the Legislature this fall.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.