City Releases Position Paper on Local Issues
DUNCAN – The City of Duncan has prepared a position paper on local issues, including housing unaffordability, opioid use, mental health, homelessness, and crime.
While many of these issues are outside the jurisdiction and control of local government, the City has focused on doing what it can with its limited resources and authority, while lobbying for provincial changes. This Council has embarked on the Safer Community Plan, increased neighbourhood supports, increased spending on security and bylaw enforcement, and held conference calls with various Provincial ministers.
“I am grateful for all of the work that staff and Council have put into the development this position paper. This is tough subject matter,” states Peter de Verteuil, Chief Administrative Officer. “In recent years, frustration has been mounting, which is understandable as the issues have grown. However, misinformation, uninformed accusations, and increased stigmatization are not acceptable, and they do not help address these issues.”
“This position paper is a tool we have developed to outline the varying responsibilities of each level of government, and to detail the ongoing commitment of the City to support businesses, residents, and unsheltered individuals as we work with local and other levels of government partners to develop solutions,” Mayor Staples explains. “There is no easy fix, no one-size fits all response to address what is happening. It will take a multi-pronged approach, including providing treatment beds, mental health facilities, affordable and supportive housing, services and programs for those needing a hand up and the capacity and resources required to ensure courts and correctional supports and services are there to address the disruptors and criminal elements such as drug dealing and theft. This is not to suggest that people who are unsheltered are criminals, we know that only a small percentage (approx. 10%) are responsible for the majority of the criminal activities taking place.”
“We now have both Federal and Provincial governments investing resources to meet community needs. We have to work together to ensure that our region, not just our City, stays focused on long-term solutions that provide support, dignity, and safety for everyone,” Mayor Staples adds.
- City Council is advocating for the following changes at the provincial level:
- Revisit the Mental Health Act to improve treatment for those where other supports are insufficient
- Establish improved preventative measures (educate youth on addiction issues, expand counselling and outreach etc.)
- Provide additional court and corrections facilities resources to improve escalating sentencing
- Impose larger penalties for those pedaling the poisoned drug supply
- Improve neighbourhood security around the Overdose Prevention Site, shelters, supportive housing sites
- Increase supportive and affordable housing programs
- Increase treatment and recovery programs and beds
- Review the sharps distribution program
- Educate about safe supply