It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of 2016 – and what a year it’s been! From building thousands of new homes to meeting many of our Greenest City targets, I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished together this year. We know affordability remains a top concern for many Vancouverites, and we’re struggling with a devastating fentanyl overdose crisis in our city, but we’ve got big plans for at City Hall in 2017. But first, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the highlights from the past 12 months:
The City of Vancouver opened two community centres overnight Saturday to welcome anyone who needed to get out of the cold, and will make more space available Sunday night including at the West End community centre.
Creekside community centre was open from 8 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning; Britannia community centre opened at 10 p.m. Both locations saw about 20 people over the course of the evening and some stayed overnight. The warming shelters were supported by staff and the Vancouver Volunteer Corps.
The City of Vancouver is providing additional warm and welcoming space for anyone who needs to get out of the cold tonight and Sunday night. Two community centres will be open extra hours (Creekside, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., and Britannia, 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) as warming shelters, supported by staff and volunteers.
Today City Council approved Vancouver’s 2017 Budget, which offers a broad range of services using a limited range of revenue sources. The 2017 Budget makes a record investment in affordable housing, provides new funding to improve city services like permits and licensing, and adds targeted funding to address the fentanyl overdose crisis that is putting a huge strain on City police and fire services.
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.