KAMLOOPS — Municipal officials from across the province are heading back home after meeting in Vancouver for the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention.
The yearly conference features education sessions and keynote speeches, along with a litany of mini-meetings between civic officials and provincial cabinet ministers.
Acting Kamloops Mayor Arjun Singh says it was a productive week for city officials.
"We had a chance to meet many of the new ministers and some of the provincial staff on a number of different issues: housing, opioids, Stuart Wood school, BC Transit. We met actually with a strict focus on the patient care tower at RIH. Really good sessions as well, and resolutions that went to the floor," said Singh.
"The issue of cannabis legalization is one that's very much alive. We have a quick timeline to try and get a whole bunch of work done around local legislation and provincial legislation," he said.
"What's very good about that is the province has agreed to work closely with local governments across the province to get that legislation figured out and implemented before the July deadline for legalization."
Premier John Horgan made a significant affordable housing announcement at the convention, committing the government to build 2,000 modular housing units in BC.
Singh says city officials will try to get some of those units built in Kamloops.
"We have a chance in Kamloops to get some of those units for our short-term housing needs, housing people who are on the streets," he said. "We need as much of that as we can get, and obviously wrap it around with supports, and hopefully get folks off to a better situation."
Singh himself was acclaimed UBCM's first vice-president, putting him in line for the presidency in 2018.
He says the organization's executive will have plenty on its plate over the next 12 months.
"We're also working on the cannabis legalization, housing, responsible conduct for elected officials and a whole host of other things. It just allows me to be a little bit more involved and, as a side benefit, bring some of that knowledge back to the community in Kamloops."
Kamloops voters will elect a new mayor tomorrow, September 30.
The winner of the by-election will sworn in on Monday, October 16, when Singh will return to his position as a city councillor.
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