Community First leads advocacy for small business, emergency services, and vulnerable residents - Community First

Community First leads advocacy for small business, emergency services, and vulnerable residents

Community First members of New Westminster city council passed five resolutions at the February 26th council meeting advocating for senior government action on various issues important to the community of New Westminster.

Community First members brought forward five resolutions to support local small businesses and the hospitality industry, to increase harm reduction resources province-wide, to support investments in public seniors care, and to call for E-Comm governance review.

The resolutions will be taken to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association annual conference of local governments, which takes place in Whistler in May. Resolutions are the process through which member local governments from Pemberton to Hope collectively advocate for senior government action on issues relevant to their communities. New Westminster is continuing its tradition of being a leading advocate at the regional table.

“This is work arising from strong advocacy at Century House, Senior Services Society and conversations with the outgoing Seniors’ Advocate,” said Councillor Ruby Campbell on her resolution calling for reduction of barriers to public home care services. “The Seniors' Advocate report Billions More Reasons to Care clearly called for the province to improve access to publicly funded care homes. We also desperately need to improve community-based and publicly funded services for seniors, especially home supports.”

“At Council and the Police Board, there have been concerns raised about E-Comm’s ability to provide the reliable emergency communication system our communities expect,” said Mayor Patrick Johnstone on his E-Comm resolution. “We are asking the province to take the lead on assuring this critical public safety infrastructure is sustainable so it will be there when we need it.”

Recent discussions in New Westminster have circulated about supporting local-serving small businesses in a time when the local commercial lease market is constrained and regional lease rates are increasing unsustainably. A resolution was forwarded asking that Local Governments be empowered to create “special economic zones” where lease protections for local small businesses could be applied. This was presented along with a resolution supporting the Save BC Restaurants campaign launched by the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association and supported by the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce in asking the Province to consider creating a Ministry of Hospitality.

Finally, Community First Councillor Tasha Henderson worked with independent Councillor Nadine Nakagawa in presenting a resolution asking the province to expand funding to overdose prevention sites across the province.

“We need these services in every community, because people are dying in every community,” said Councillor Henderson,

In May, the Councils of 29 member local governments of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association will vote on the resolutions put forward by member communities. Endorsed resolutions will also go to the Union of BC Municipalities conference in September.


Below: Full text of the resolutions:


Allowing local governments to apply commercial rent controls

Submitted by Councillor Henderson

Whereas the Province of British Columbia regulates annual allowable residential rent increases through the Residential Tenancy Regulation, B.C. Reg. 477/2003, to protect lower income renters from housing insecurity; and

Whereas there is currently no similar Provincial policy to protect small businesses or community-serving commercial tenants from unsustainable, unpredictable, and increasingly significant rent increases;

Therefore be it resolved that the Province of British Columbia provide local governments with the legislative authority to enable special economic zones where commercial rent control and demo/renoviction policies could be applied to ensure predictability in commercial lease costs, so local small businesses and community-serving commercial tenants can continue to serve their communities.


Additional funding for overdose prevention sites across municipalities

Submitted by Councillor Henderson and Councillor Nakagawa

Whereas the Province of British Columbia declared a drug toxicity public emergency in 2016, acknowledging the rapid increase in overdose deaths and the need to deploy the necessary harm reduction strategies with urgency to prevent additional deaths; and

Whereas over 13,000 people have died of toxic drugs since 2016 in communities across British Columbia, including at least 2,500 people in 2023, about two-thirds of which were from inhalation, yet only about 40% of supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites in British Columbia offer inhalation services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Province of British Columbia increase funding for Health Authorities to augment existing and to open new supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites, including related inhalation services, across British Columbia and including municipalities which do not currently offer this service to residents.


Eliminating Barriers to Public Home Care Services and Social Supports for Aging in Place and Public Long-Term Care

Submitted by Councillor Campbell

Whereas seniors, families and seniors organizations have been advocating to improve access to public home care services and supports to assist seniors to live at home, in their communities, longer and to delay or prevent premature admissions to public long-term care facilities; and

Whereas finances can become an impediment to access the required home care services such as housekeeping, more frequent bathing and meal preparation necessary to age in place, and community programs that have been designed to try and meet seniors’ needs are unable to fulfil the increasing demand;

Therefore be it resolved that the Province eliminate financial and accessibility barriers by investing in more non-profit and public home care services and social supports required to age in place, and by further investing in non-profit public long-term care to ensure seniors are well supported in the continuum of care.


Creating a Ministry of Hospitality

Submitted by Councillor Campbell

Whereas British Columbia is home to over 15,000 restaurants and foodservice vendors that employ over 185,000 workers across the province, generate $18 billion in annual sales and play a key role in supporting BC workers, families, and vital industries such as agriculture, transportation, and tourism and are at the heart of every community in this province; and

Whereas the costs of food, supplies and transportation have substantially increased, commercial property owners are passing commercial property taxes on to restaurant and food service tenants, many of whom continue to experience longterm impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic;

Therefore be it resolved the Province create a Ministry of Hospitality to support and engage restaurants, food service vendors and the hospitality sector generally by acting as advocates within government for policy development and reform.


E-Comm Governance Review

Submitted by Mayor Johnstone

Whereas E-Comm has struggled to provide service levels that meet established standards or the expectations of the communities they serve, while the cost of E-Comm is increasing at an unsustainable rate, creating budget uncertainty for local Police and Fire services, and

Whereas the imminent introduction of next-Gen 911 will represent the single largest change in emergency communications delivery since the introduction of 911, with uncertain cost and operational impacts,

Therefore be it resolved the Provincial Government engage local governments in a comprehensive review of the governance structure and delivery model of 911 emergency call taking, related non-emergency call taking, and emergency dispatch services across BC with a goal to assure reliable, affordable, and sustainable services for all communities.


Contacts for Members of Council:


Tasha Henderson: [email protected]

Ruby Campbell: [email protected]

Mayor Patrick Johnstone: [email protected]