Nanaimo councillors discuss affordable housing at conference

NANAIMO – City councillors discussed issues at Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities Conference program should be cut down, according to Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, who wants to see a focus on debating resolutions.

“One thing I was disappointed in was the fact that so many of [the resolutions] got passed as a block,” he said, explaining resolutions were grouped together and passed as one, and “without debate.”

“I echo one of the statements made by another delegate where he said, you know, maybe we should do with less speeches and spend more time doing the work we’re supposed to do here, which are the resolutions.”

Municipal politicians converged on Victoria last week for the five-day annual Union of B.C Municipalities convention, which includes forums, guest-speakers, tours and resolutions.

There were more than 100 resolutions, including a request for the federal government to share any future federal or provincial tax collected through marijuana sales and distribution and the protection of old-growth forest. Both resolutions were endorsed.

The City of Nanaimo did not have any resolutions this year.

McKay said he wants to review videos of presentations and work done with an interest in how municipalities can assist in the provision of affordable housing. He said while housing in Nanaimo is still very affordable, he believes there has to be a look to the next couple years to determine what might happen as a result of legislation that affects properties on the Lower Mainland.

McKay does believe there needs to be debate on resolutions instead of seeing them passed in blocks. He also said it’s getting to the point where too much is being “crammed” into five days.

Coun. Ian Thorpe attended the UBCM for the first time this year and found it valuable.

“Just to hear the issues that are shared by other areas of the province, other cities and municipalities,” he said, adding there were also brainstorming sessions on how to deal with those issues as well as a chance to meet other people from other cities and communities.

After one session on homelessness, Thorpe said he came away feeling like things are being done right here.

“What was suggested was it’s not just a homelessness issue, it’s also related to substance abuse and addiction problems quite often so there has to be a combined effort to deal with all of the sort of symptoms that relate to homelessness,” he said, adding it’s about having housing available, as well as support if there’s addiction problems and to break a cycle that keeps people on the street. “I think we are doing that here.”

McKay and Coun. Wendy Pratt attended the full conference. Councillors Diane Brennan and Thorpe were at the event all but one day, while Gord Fuller, Jerry Hong and Jim Kipp attended some sessions, the city reports.

Councillors have $2,500 in their budget for the UBCM.