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'We had a good meeting,' Robertson speaks with PM Trudeau

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks to reporters after meeting with the prime minister. (HanaMae Nassar, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Trudeau was in the Lower Mainland after touring Williams Lake

Gregor Robertson and the prime minister discussed several topics including housing and the drug crisis

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s looking forward to working with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on expanding transit infrastructure, improving housing affordability and tackling the deadly opioid crisis.

The two leaders met today in Vancouver following Trudeau’s stop at a BT Vancouver. “We had a good meeting this morning. The prime minister and I talked extensively, particularly on affordable housing, transit and the opioid overdose crisis. Those are the three big challenges and opportunities. Obviously, we’re looking forward to more transit investment in the fall with the BC government at the table and getting the big projects going,” says Robertson.

He adds they discussed the need for affordable housing to be a key priority for all three levels of government with the out of control local real market still a major issue. “We’ve got lots of work to do… but very constructive and it’s great to have the alignment of the BC government, it’s a game changer in terms of putting affordable housing and transit deals together aggressively. I’m hopeful we’re going to see lots of action in the months to come.”

When it comes to the opioid crisis, Robertson says a lot of provinces are not sharing data with the cities. “There’s a huge impact on frontline workers and first responders right now. The crisis is intensifying across Canada. Vancouver is the hardest hit. We’re sharing our lessons learned. We absolutely have to see more investment from provincial health authorities making sure there are addictions treatment available.”

He feels Ottawa has helped, but admits more needs to be done. “They’ve put money on the table. What we need from the provinces is data sharing across the country so we know how big this crisis is [and] how many people are dying in real-time. And we need that direct investment from provinces in the prevention and education to prevent people from overdosing.”

Robertson said the two didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Trudeau’s government approved the $7.4 billion proposal last November despite Robertson’s opposition to the project, which would result in a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the waters off Vancouver.

Robertson and Trudeau have had a friendly rapport, but the mayor has said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the federal government’s decision, calling it a “big step backwards” for Canada’s environment and economy.

Trudeau was in the Interior on Monday to survey the damage caused by wildfires.

The prime minister also spoke at a $1,000-a-plate Liberal fundraising dinner in Surrey on Monday, where he urged the crowd of about 250 people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross to help those displaced by wildfires.