Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor said health care was the top issue during last week’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention held in Whistler.
“I think there was quite a bit of angst expressed in that meeting (with health minister Adrian Dix),” said Windsor. The meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 13 with Dix also featured leading figures and thinkers on health care in British Columbia.
They included Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance and Paramedics and Dispatchers of B.C., George Abbott, former minister of health and current president of Circle Square Solutions, a think tank, and Kerry Jang, a former Vancouver councillor and current professor at the University of British Columbia and a leading expert in public health.
Windsor, along with Couns. Gordon Newton and Carl Jensen, attended that session. While Windsor did not catch all of it because of other meetings, its tone was clear.
“I understand there were a bit of fireworks in there,” he said.
Health care looms especially but not exclusively large for smaller, rural communities against the backdrop of closed emergency rooms and long response times by ambulance services caused by funding issues.
“It is very concerning what we heard from smaller municipalities, smaller communities in the Interior,” said Windsor. “Their ERs and such are being shut down on a regular basis. We are fortunate that we have not seen that more at (Saanich Peninsula Hospital).”
That said, the hospital has experienced an overnight emergency room closure as recently as late August.
Windsor said the Central Saanich delegation had four ministerial meetings on range of issues including abandoned and derelict boats in Brentwood Bay and their harmful impact. Windsor said that meeting included Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nations.
‘That was a very productive meeting…and we believe we laid out a good case,” he said.
Still uncertain is the identity of the operator the province will hire to run the supportive housing project on Prosser Road. While the building is approaching completion, the identity of the operator and the status of resources to help future residents remains unclear.
“I would say there is some level of concern,” said Windsor.
Central Saanich is a willing partner with the provincial government, he said.
“We need to continue to work on making sure that this (project) is successful in our community. If someone has a mental health need, then they need to have support or it won’t (succeed).”
Windsor also signalled the municipality would have some issues with pending provincial legislation directing housing density.
Some critics fearing a ban of single-detached housing. A one-size-fits-all approach would not be appropriate, said Windsor.
It would generate “thoughtful resistance as opposed to outright opposition.”
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