Tent camp occupies provincial property next to Victoria’s downtown courthouse, March 2016. (Black Press files)

Housing issues pressing for NDP government

Politicians gathering for B.C. municipal convention

Municipal politicians have lots of demands for the new B.C. government, as it begins work on what it describes as the province’s first-ever comprehensive housing plan.

Finance Minister Carole James and the rest of the NDP cabinet are heading to their first Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver Sept. 25-29. There they will face an array of proposals to ease the cost and scarcity of rental and purchased housing in urban areas, which James agrees is a “crisis.”

Victoria council gets priority for its resolution calling for a share of increased federal and provincial taxes. They hope to discourage “flipping” and speculative purchase of homes, which drive up prices and leave properties sitting empty as investors reap profits.

Their resolution calls for a portion of the province’s property transfer tax revenue, plus a share of capital gains tax, to be dedicated to municipal affordable housing and transit.

James said in an interview she is getting advice from all over the province for the government’s housing strategy, which she aims to begin building in her first full provincial budget in February.

“I think what you’re hearing in all of the UBCM resolutions is what we’re hearing in communities across the province,” James said. “There’s a real crisis in housing.”

Langley Township wants some of the province’s property tax windfall to help communities cope with the rapidly growing number of homeless people. Their resolution notes that Saanich proposed a 20 per cent share of property transfer tax be designated for homelessness and subsidized housing in 2007, but the previous B.C. government did not act on that over the decade that followed.

RELATED: Seniors Advocate’s 2015 calls for housing help

The province projects it will collect $1.8 billion this year from the property transfer tax, down from more than $2 billion last year and projected to decline further as interest rate increases cool overheated real estate markets.

“Is there a problem with vacant housing? Yes, it appears so,” James said. “Is there a problem around speculation in the market, it appears so. Let’s make sure the solutions we’re coming up with will have a long-term impact.”

• Nelson is calling on the province to give municipalities across B.C. authority to place a surtax on “vacant and derelict residential properties,” similar to what Vancouver got last year.

• Esquimalt is making what has become an annual resolution to the UBCM for the province to encourage investment in rental housing, while also restricting “renovictions” where landlords evict tenants to make improvements and raise rents.

• Chilliwack, which last year coped with more homeless camps than any other community in B.C., wants more stringent provincial regulation and more staff at provincial “supportive recovery homes” for people dealing with alcohol or other drug addiction.

• Delta council is seeking better social support for seniors to reduce their social isolation, echoing recommendations from B.C.’s Seniors Advocate to improve home care services and day programs to keep seniors in independent living.

Just Posted

PLACE NAMES: The Lucerne of North America

New Denver, Kaslo, and Nelson all likened themselves to a Swiss city

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Nominations open for Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year

Award presented annually for a person or group with an outstanding record of community service

Fashion Fridays: Must-have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

B.C. police watchdog clears officers in fatal hostage situation outside Cranbrook

A woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning after taking two minors hostage last fall

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read