On Wednesday night, Vancouver Fire and Rescue hosted me on a ride-along at Fire Hall 2 for a first-hand view of the horrific impacts of the fentanyl overdose crisis in the Downtown Eastside. Even after months of talking to firefighters, police, outreach workers, drug users and health providers on the frontlines of the overdose crisis, and reading countless reports and news stories, it was shocking to see the extreme impacts of fentanyl.
The City of Vancouver and the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) have taken a significant step in realizing an innovative social service hub for urban aboriginal youth by securing all the land for the new Native Youth Centre. The Centre will be the first of its kind in Canada: a purpose built, Aboriginal youth-led, multipurpose facility offering social, cultural, educational and health related programs, including 220 affordable homes.
The City of Vancouver is encouraged that today’s federal budget makes significant commitments to short and long-term investments in housing, transit and social infrastructure, and Mayor Robertson and the City are reaffirming their commitment to work closely with both the provincial and federal governments to expedite projects that put this funding to use.
Today City Council approved Vancouver’s 2016 Budget. This balanced budget will keep taxes and fees low while making investments in priority areas such as affordable housing, transportation, and infrastructure.
“The City of Vancouver plays a strong role in supporting our city’s economic leadership and enhancing the livability and quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver is keeping taxes low while investing in priorities like affordable housing, community services and better service delivery.”
This morning I took part in the City’s annual homeless count. I’m proud that as a City we set an ambitious goal seven years ago to end street homelessness. While I’m disappointed today that we’re not closer to zero than we are, as a city we’ve made progress. No one ever said it would be easy, but I know Vancouverites want and expect us to set important goals and take action.