… and on affordable housing

Local MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke candidates discuss B.C.'s housing crisis.

Housing in British Columbia is at the forefront of issues political parties are discussing, each coming forward with their plans to make renting and owning homes more affordable in this province. While the Columbia River-Revelstoke riding hasn’t been hit as hard as Vancouver with saoring housing prices, the issue is still prevalent within the region.

“Houses are to live in, not to flip,” said NDP candidate Gerry Taft.

Taft went on to accuse Premier Clark and the B.C. Liberals of mismanaging housing affordability within the province.

“Christy Clark has completely mismanaged the housing affordability issue in British Columbia from low-interest loans from B.C. housing to B.C. Liberal insiders benefiting from luxury condo developments. B.C. Liberal policy has resulted in the loss of social housing units as well as losing long-term control over rental rates. The B.C. Liberal legacy on housing is seen in stalled projects with vacant land sitting for years waiting for provincial investment in low-cost housing,” said Taft.

Taft said that the few actions they have taken the foreign home buyer tax and second mortgage down payment scheme have been knee-jerk half measures. He then went on to describe how the NDP plan to close loopholes and make B.C. housing and real estate policy decisions based on rich developers wishes.

“The B.C. NDP will work with local governments in a meaningful way to develop social and attainable housing, rather than unfairly blaming housing issues on towns and cities. We will proactively work with the federal government and other funders, rather than withholding necessary provincial funding,” said Taft.

On the other hand, Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok defended his party’s approach to housing, pointing to the the B.C. Home Partnership programs.

“This program offers down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers, which will help 42,000 households own their first home,” said Clovechok.

Criticizing the NDP, which plans to scrap the B.C. Home Partnership, Clovechok said the NDP “think they know better than you how to spend your money on your families’ housing.”

“As a parent and grandparent, I know how important owning a home was to raising my kids. A key part of building strong communities here in Columbia River-Revelstoke is to make sure that the dream of owning a home stays within the reach of our families,” said Clovechok.

On Tuesday, April 11th leader of the Green party Andrew Weaver unveiled the party’s affordable housing platform which included plans to cool the real estate market, increase the supply of affordable housing, protect tenants and landlords, and maintain and enhance housing support programs.

“This problem requires looking to all levels of government. Ideas such as incentivizing the building of dedicated rental housing or dedicated lower income homes for purchase need to be explored more seriously throughout the region,” said Green party candidate Samson Boyer.

Boyer questioned the Liberals response to the housing issues in the province.

“I do know that the Liberals have been slow to act on the issue. Only in the approach to an election have they put forward solutions, which are nothing more than superficial band-aids that really don’t address the problem for most British Columbians. Not suprising the Christy Clark government has benefitted from the inappropriately high real estate market in the province balancing a budget propping up an artificially inflated housing market,” said Boyer.

Boyer said both the province and the region need more affordable options for people to live here.

What I do know is that B.C. and our region have to embrace affordable housing, both to own and rent, if we are going to attract and retain talent, particularly younger people. If we’re going to appeal to business and workers, they need to have affordable options to live here,” said Boyer.

Independent candidate Justin Hooles said that we don’t need to spend more money, we just need to spend it better.

“Ownership should be the goal. If we offered rent-to-own projects, we would eventually see all of those invested funds returned and cycled through to create more affordable housing, while at the same time enabling these people to build a small amount of equity of their own, and lifting the responsibility and cost of long-term maintenance off of the government,” said Hooles.

Hooles suggest we need to shift focus to funding non-profits, individuals, and municipalities that are working on solving this issue. “Traditionally, the government has been working with investors and construction companies that are out for big profits, and not truly focused on creating long-term solutions,” said Hooles.

Hooles suggested working alongside municipalities to change zoning allowing for more housing development.

“Gaining support from the municipalities is imperative. By changing regulations around zoning, we could promote the creation of suites, laneway homes, and townhouses. We should also create an area in the municipality for dense living, allowing for cheaper land costs, or even potentially zoning areas specifically for “tiny home villages”,” said Hooles.