City of Kamloops sends pair of resolutions to UBCM

City sends ideas to UBCM

A pair of issues raised by the City of Kamloops have made it to the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention.

The annual meeting of the province's towns, cities and districts brings members of local governments together to discuss a variety of issues and pass resolutions. This year, Kamloops has a pair that are a part of the Sept. 22 to 24 online gathering.

One has to do with the sharing of costs when it comes to prisoners in municipal jails.

"Essentially, the province of B.C. has an agreement with those municipalities that operate their own municipal jails to pay for prisoners which are remanded in custody or prisoners that may come from out of Kamloops," says Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.

He estimates it costs the city more than $200 per day to keep a prisoner in the city jail. Sometimes that includes prisoners from outside the city or intermittent prisoners under provincial jurisdiction. When that's the case, the province contributes about $26, Christian says. It's the agreement that dictates those rules he wants revisited.

"The (provincial) government says it’s part of their funding for policing and we say, no it’s not, it’s funding that taxpayers in Kamloops are picking up," he tells Castanet. "So it’s a disagreement about where that money is coming from."

Christian has regularly brought this up with the solicitor general.

The resolution was scheduled to be discussed at the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA), but that event didn't happened due to the pandemic.

A similar situation occurred with the city's second resolution for the UBCM meeting; that resolution asks for a review of the current outpatient model and how it deals with the city's homeless.

"There needs to be some form of secure treatment facility for people with severe mental illness that are really just wandering the streets of Kamloops," Christian says.

He notes that he's not advocating for a facility like the Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, but wants to see something in place beyond what's currently available.

"I do think small secure facilities that treated people with specific illnesses would be much better than what we have now with them living on the riverbank and trying to seek out an existence on the streets of Kamloops," Christian says.

He says often vulnerable people sent back out on to the streets are preyed upon by drug dealers.

"It’s unfair to them to expect them to function out on the street with the kind of mental illness burden that they carry."

Both resolutions are near the end of UBCM agenda. Christian isn't certain either will be debated and expects they will be revisited at next year's SILGA meeting.

– with files from Tereza Verenca

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