Social issues at top of list

The City of Penticton will be focusing on social issues when the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) convention comes to town this week, says mayor John Vassilaki.

“Most of the resolutions we have brought forward to SILGA are dealing with social issues like homelessness, mental illness, policing and safety,” he said.

“The province has downloaded all of these costs onto municipalities and our costs for policing and bylaws keeps going up. The province isn’t giving us extra financing so it comes through people’s taxes. We want to see the province recognize this.”

Several hundred municipal politicians and staff are spending the week in Penticton for the SILGA Convention and AGM which runs from April 30 to May 3 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

SILGA is comprised of elected officials from 37 cities and towns and represents municipalities and regional districts in the Thompson-Okanagan.

“The SILGA convention gives the local economy a boost which is good  for this time of year when we don’t see as many tourists. They are staying at our hotels and motels, eating at our restaurants and touring our wineries,” said Vassilaki.

Vassilaki is hoping Penticton’s resolutions will be passed at SILGA so they can then be brought to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference held in September in Vancouver.

“If they pass there, then those resolutions will be put on the province to hopefully do something,” said Vassilaki.

The first resolution Penticton has on the table seeks provincial and federal funding for “full social support services for homeless housing.”

“We do finally have the province bringing some services but they are late to the table,” he said.

The 62-bed modular housing on Winnipeg Street is being run by Ask Wellness Society and is expected to be ready in September. The conversion of the old Super 8 motel into homeless housing has seen major delays due to rot and mold issues, said BC Housing. They expect to open a portion of the Super 8, now dubbed Compass Court, this spring.

Penticton is also asking for both levels of government to fund alcohol and drug recovery facilities and beds. The city would also like to see the Ministry of Health get involved with inspecting rooming houses in the city.

The RDOS has submitted several resolutions including asking for gas tax funding to help pay for volunteer or paid-on-call fire departments. Under safety and environmental, the RDOS has a resolution asking for roles and responsibilities for emergency and disaster mitigation in B.C.

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