Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says council is expecting to press the provincial government on promises of affordability and safety. (Steve Kidd/Western News)

Penticton pushing policing, mental health at UBCM

The city has three resolutions submitted and meetings with two provincial ministers

Attending a weeklong conference in Vancouver, Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said council is looking to push provincial politicians on issues like homelessness, affordability and addictions.

Mayor and council are attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where they’ve submitted a three potential resolutions, and arranged two meetings with provincial ministers.

“From accepting small grants to collectively pushing year after year to see a $312-million hospital expansion come to fruition, the outcomes of UBCM have been significant for Penticton,” Jakubeit said in a news release.

Despite city hall taking flack in the past for all six councillors and the mayor attending the conference, Jakubeit defended the “team effort.”

“UBCM’s weighty program of over 80 overlapping sessions requires a team effort,” he said. “We will be attending a combination of ministerial meetings, resolution presentations and policy forums to understand what the direction of the new government may mean for Penticton and to advocate for some of Penticton’s pressing needs.”

According to the news release, that’s coming with a focus on affordability, homelessness, wellness, addiction and public safety.

Related: B.C. cities seek policing cost reform at UBCM

The City of Penticton said council has confirmed meetings with Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy and Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

With Darcy, council expects to call for support for a “local pilot project to address (the) homelessness crisis.”

In particular, the City of Penticton is asking for funding to create low-cost transitional housing with government services to “better co-ordinate and deliver services to those living on the streets that are suffering from addiction and poor mental health.”

That project, the city release said, would be run by the city, with input from service providers. Staff are reportedly looking into the costs of such a project. It’s not clear if there’s any relation between the project and the social housing that’s expected to go into the former Super 8 Motel on Main Street, where Interior Health will be providing in-house services, alongside B.C. Housing.

Related: Penticton mayor says UBCM a good investment

With Farnworth, the city is calling for a mental health liaison officer, citing the “immediate and measurable impacts” from mental health liaison officers in cities as big as Vancouver and Surrey and as small as Mission.

“This funding should address the fact that many of the chronic users of these services are transient in nature and move throughout the entire South Okanagan,” the news release said.

The city also notes it is forming a community wellness committee with the RCMP, which is intended to bring together several services to integrate with policing, asking for funding for the project from the provincial government. That will include things like emergency services, local government, business leaders, the school district and Interior Health.

Councillors are also expected to be entering sessions on local government funding, affordability, local governance and cannabis legalization, taxes on vacant properties, long-term rentals, the overdose crisis and the Residential Tenancy Act.

The city’s own resolutions going into UBCM involve public notice, local government recall — a request brought to council by Elvena Slump — and a call for a business registry census to be delivered to local governments on an annual basis.

Related: City council endorsing recall in local politics

“We have a new government that has made a lot of promises to make life more affordable and safer for those who need it most,” Jakubeit said. “We won’t leave any stone unturned in our appeal to bring those promises home to Penticton.”

Jakubeit did not reach out to the Western News, despite repeated requests for an interview.


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