Penticton mayor, council meeting with provincial government officials to push for public safety resources

Pushing for public safety

Representatives from Penticton council have made pushing for more public safety resources a priority at this week's Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference in Vancouver.

Every year, local governments from around B.C. send elected representatives to the conference to learn from each other and to meet with provincial powers that be to share concerns and priorities.

Last year, council lobbied for Car 40 program, pairing mental health workers with police. That program rolled out this summer, to success so far.

“The Car 40 is a good first step towards but it is not a silver bullet to solving the challenges we see in our community,” Mayor Julius Bloomfield said in a press release this week.

“We know it will allow people in mental health crisis to be treated with a greater level of care and concern. The question we will be asking ministers is where the assistance is after that initial contact is made. It’s imperative that services match the needs and that will be one of our key focuses over the week.”

On Monday, council had a one-on-one meeting with Premier David Eby. More meetings, with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside and Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang, are scheduled during the week.

“The one-on-one meetings provide us the opportunity to make the case directly to the decision- makers and inform them of how Penticton is doing it parts through initiatives like the Safe Public Spaces Bylaw and the review of the Official Community Plan as it relates to housing,” Bloomfield said.

“Our goal is to find ways to work together with senior levels of government to deal with the issues impacting our residents.”

A total of six councillors and two staff are in Vancouver on behalf of Penticton, having arrived Monday. The conference concludes Friday.

The total cost of the trip to city coffers is estimated at $25,000.

Aside from meetings, council members are also attending workshops and forums on decriminalization, economic resiliency and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as presenting a resolution "would see the provincial government match or exceed any donation of municipal land for affordable housing projects up for debate."

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