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UBCM makes sixteenth call for BC housing plan

For the sixteenth time since 1990, the UBCM asked the province to take action on affordable housing.

"It's 2008 and the same resolution is still on the books," said Saanich Councillor Robert Gillespie. "It's high time we stopped talking and studying and got on with this issue."

UBCM delegates voted in favour of a resolution that calls on the BC government to work "urgently" with its federal counterparts to create national and provincial housing strategies.

"It is a continuation of our cry for help," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. "Those people who are on the street and homeless are really only the canary in the mine."

Referring to homelessness as a "growing and complex problem," the resolution called for more funding from provincial surpluses and property tax revenues to develop affordable housing. It also asked for incentives such as "low income tax credits" and "GST exemptions" to spur the private sector to build more rental housing units.

Gillespie said it was a "no-brainer" that the province should be using income from property tax transfers to help municipalities deal with local need.

"We get [the revenue] from housing, so why aren't we putting it back into housing?" he asked.

The UBCM also asked the province to make sure that "dually diagnosed" people – those with mental and addiction problems – receive "adequate care in the health system."

According to the resolution, Vancouver Police use up $9 million in resources each year to deal with people who have mental illnesses.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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