During the 2023 Advocacy Days, UBCM Executive members met with 33 MLAs from all parties including Premier Eby, 11 ministers, leader of the Official Opposition Kevin Falcon, BC Green party leader Sonia Furstenau, and both caucus chairs to discuss local government priorities. Our three priorities were: community safety, housing, and community economic development.
The need to develop a long-term local government funding and capacity building framework for new and ongoing emergency management costs was raised for discussion with MLAs. The Executive highlighted the financial pressures of preparing for and responding to the increased intensity of natural disasters at the community level, and pointed out the costs that will come with the new roles and responsibilities for local governments under the proposed modernization of emergency management legislation. They emphasized that the magnitude of investments required is beyond local taxation powers.
On the heels of the UBCM Housing Summit, Executive members stressed the importance of engaging local governments “early and often” as partners in addressing the housing crisis, both in identifying and implementing solutions. They highlighted the need for a comprehensive local government consultation framework on provincial housing supply measures, and said that ground-up approaches will help reduce the likelihood of unintended consequences and implementation challenges for provincial housing measures. The Executive also called on the Province to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support an accelerated supply of housing to accommodate BC’s population growth.
Regarding community economic development, Executive members discussed the importance of expanding provincial support for transitioning local economies through new funding and capacity-building support. They highlighted the struggles faced by resource-dependent communities, and the impact provincial resource management frameworks and decisions have on declining resource sectors. They advocated for early outreach and support in developing transition plans, as well as expanded training and re-training programs for workers in communities undergoing economic transition.