Some of what I do as mayor you read about in the paper or watch on our District of Sechelt YouTube channel. At the council table, we have been working on the 2021 budget and five-year financial plan and several major initiatives. As your mayor, I would like to tell you about some of the things you are not reading about. You, our residents, look to local government to address issues beyond our jurisdiction, so we try to do that. This is where we work behind the scenes to problem solve and collaborate on the challenges and opportunities facing our community. Our local governments see the value in coming together to speak with one voice to our provincial and federal counterparts on behalf of the Sunshine Coast.
For example, housing, under provincial and federal jurisdictions, is a large and challenging issue on the Coast. We are asked to address workforce housing, affordable housing, homelessness, transition housing and assisted living. In partnership, the local governments commissioned a coastwide Housing Needs Report, but reports aren’t enough. We need action. Elected officials from the four local governments and the school district recently met with more than a dozen community groups to come up with initiatives that could be acted upon within one to three months. We’ve worked with other stakeholders and the Province to create new opportunities for housing for those who are not housed or precariously housed. Not everyone who is homeless wants to be assisted in this way, but those that do now have many more options than they did before.
Poverty is prevalent on the Sunshine Coast. To identify actions that can be taken to address poverty reduction, the District of Sechelt applied for a grant and partnered with the Resource Centre to oversee the project.
Our municipal leaders met with representatives at Capilano University to advocate for the recently launched online course for early childhood educators and a course for health care aides. The thought is, if we can train current residents, staff recruitment may be less hampered by a lack of housing.
We continue working with Patrick Weiler, our MP, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Transport, concerned citizens and the shíshálh Nation on the removal of derelict boats in Porpoise Bay. The overlapping jurisdictions: municipal, provincial, federal and First Nations, complicates the issue a bit. We are trying to find ongoing funding and a collaborative solution to protect our bay, but in the meantime, at least some boats are being removed with federal funding and the support of the Dead Boat Society.
These are some of the areas where municipal leaders can and do advocate for our community. Your voices are heard, and we are speaking for you as not all the action is at the council table. We invite you to keep talking to us, share your thoughts, come to meetings, send us an email or participate in a survey, so we know what your priorities are.