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Penticton  

Council to lobby province

Some members of Penticton city council will be in Whistler this week at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention, discussing issues like housing resources, mental health services and flood recovery funding with provincial authorities. 

“Attendance at UBCM over the last few years has allowed Penticton city council to drive policy development on a range of topics and issues facing our community," said Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton mayor. 

“Various projects currently underway in our community, including major infrastructure upgrades like the $312 million hospital expansion, are a direct result of the work done at UBCM.”

This year, city council attendees have a list of issues to bring up with the province. They will be lobbying for support directly from the relevant elected provincial officials. 

“We rarely get an opportunity to meet face to face with the province and others to voice concern, learn and lobby for Penticton.  We are looking forward to a productive week," Jakubeit said. 

The major topics of concern are as follows.

  • Transition to Employer Health Tax: The city will ask that the EHT be deferred to 2020 to delay some costs, since the elimination of MSP premiums will be costing the city roughly $400,000 in staff costs.
  • Housing resources: The city will speak to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing about various solutions and ideas on how to work with the province on improving Penticton's housing situation. 
  • Mental health and recovery services: The city has requested detox beds and associated services be made available by the province at the Penticton Regional Hospital or elsewhere appropriate, in addition to more support for those locals seeking addiction resolution. 
  • Flood recovery and funding: The city will ask that local governments be allowed to perform flood recovery without permits, as long as an expert has been consulted, to speed the process. 
  • Intermittent sentencing: The city will request a review of when intermittent sentences are used, and will also discuss prolific offenders, public safety for rural policing and RCMP support with David Eby, B.C. attorney general. 
  • Cycling support: The city will be requesting provincial help with a lobby to the federal government, securing access to a three-kilometre stretch of Crown land for a multi-use path on the south side of Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland. 
  • Remediation of contaminated properties: The city is looking for a provincial review of legislation and regulations as to how quickly contaminated properties are remediated.

In addition to actively pursuing these plans, the city council members will be participating in a variety of policy and resolution sessions, on such topics as the opioid crisis, local police services, seniors funding, short-term vacation rentals and unpaid bylaw fines. 

The total cost to the city of attending the UBCM conference is approximately $14,500, including conference fees, accommodation, transportation and meals. 

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