Wildfires, opioid crisis and health care top of mind for Union of B.C. Municipalities convention

WATCH: Six months after B.C. launched an experiment to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs, municipal leaders say they continue to deal with the fallout. Grace Ke reports.

The annual Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention kicks off Monday, with more than 2,000 delegates expected to attend.

A number of hot topics are on the agenda, including the opioid crisis, wildfires, housing and issues with health-care services.

The convention provides a space for community leaders to discuss issues and potential solutions. It is also an opportunity for leaders to lobby the government through policy discussions.

The convention comes at a challenging time with many municipalities dealing with serious issues surrounding climate change weather events, health-care services and the housing and opioid crises.

The topic of affordability is also a major talking point as many British Columbians are feeling the squeeze of expenses.

Adding on are ongoing homelessness, addiction and mental health issues, with further calls to support drug decriminalization legislation.

“We did hear the other day that a few more exemption spaces have been added but we are renewing our call for better support and demand better treatment for substance users who are struggling with mental health,” said Jen Ford, the Union of BC Municipalities’ president.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will be discussing drug decriminalization and public drug use in the opening session of the convention.

The convention will last until Friday and is being held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, with some events at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and the Pan Pacific Hotel.

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