B.C. Premier David Eby announced millions of dollars in provincial funding will be allocated to support housing, rural firefighting teams and people in remote communities travelling for cancer care during an address at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention on Friday.
Speaking in front of hundreds at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Eby thanked local government representatives for bringing forward concerns from their constituents.
“As part of I've heard from you, and what my colleagues have heard from you here at UBCM, is a number of challenges that we face together in this province,” Eby said.
The premier said local governments and the province will need to work together to tackle the ongoing housing crisis, adding he's heard from municipalities that their staff are already stretched thin and departments don't have capacity to take on additional work.
He said the province will be providing $61 million for local governments to build capacity to meet the province's housing density initiatives.
“We have important legislation that's coming in the fall around zoning in our province, allowing additional density that is going to require you — mayor, councils and your staff — to do extra work,” he said.
“In addition to implementing provincial changes in direction, we also want you to have the capacity to reach out to other local governments and see, what are they doing? Is something working better down the road?”
About $50 million will be distributed over three years, while $10 million will be accessible through grant applications to help governments improve development approval processes.
Eby said many communities have also struggled over the course of this year’s historic wildfire season, and he has heard from local governments about experienced people who want to volunteer to help fight fires.
Eby said $4.75 million will be put towards rural, First Nations and volunteer firefighting departments across the province, helping them to obtain more equipment, training and support.
In a news release, the province said $1.4 million of these funds will be provided to UBCM to support community firefighting training and the purchase of new or replacement fire equipment.
The Fire Chief’s Association of B.C. will receive $1.75 million to support rural communities and First Nations fire departments, while $1.6 million has been provided to the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit for an education campaign teaching people how to stay safe and prevent fires.
Eby also announced $20 million will be provided to the Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air to help people in rural communities with a cancer diagnosis travel to get the care they need.
“The last thing they need to worry about is logistics to get treatment,” Eby said.
The funding help cover travel-related costs including transportation, accommodations and meals as people travel to one of six BC Cancer Centres or one of the 41 community oncology network sites throughout the province.
Eby said this is one investment of many laid out the government’s new plan which focuses on the needs of people in rural communities.