Tuesday November 22, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated at 8 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
BC will have one cabinet minister dedicated solely to the housing portfolio.
Premier David Eby made that announcement today at a noon-hour meeting of the Housing Central Conference, attended by about 1,400 people at the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver. The conference on affordable housing is held by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, and the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC.
That singular role for a housing minister is unlike in the Horgan cabinet where it was a role combined with other responsibilities.
The new Cabinet will be sworn in Dec 7 at Government House in Victoria.
For now the housing ministry is handled by Attorney General Murray Rankin. Eby himself shared the housing portfolio in his Attorney General’s office until he ran for the BC NDP leadership earlier this year. Prior to Eby handling the housing file, the housing minister was Sheila Malcolmson (who was moved into the Finance role by Horgan).
Pitch to the non-profit housing sector:
Today Eby pitched to BC Non-Profit Housing Association that he needs their “delivery on the ground in ways that people can see, touch and feel”. And that the new successes for NDP housing policy (as outlined in his leadership campaign) are “reliant on the people in this room”.
“We need your partnership to make sure affordable housing stays affordable (regardless of who is in government), and I look forward to partnering with you on that,” said Premier Eby to the affordable housing non-profit management crowd.
Considering the human cost:
Eby said that the system of housing regulations in government has in the past been structured in a way that doesn’t consider the human cost.
He gave an example of someone who was not allowed to rent out a strata condo (that remains vacant during a housing crisis) because of strata regulations, and another example where a couple deciding to have a family would have to move out of their condo that had an over-age-19 restriction.
New standalone housing ministry:
Housing will become its own standalone ministry as part of Eby’s plan to address the housing crisis in BC.
Yesterday Eby announced new legislation that, if passed, would bring in several changes to enable an increased housing supply as well as other components of solving the shortage of housing — and notably affordable housing — in BC. The new legislation would by mid 2023 see the provincial government with new ‘teeth’ to guide and enforce housing in municipalities, and also remove strata council age limitations so that people who start families are not forced to relocate.
“We can’t leave any housing on the table,” said Eby today.
“You have to have a long range view when it comes to housing,” the Premier said.
Last year over 100,000 people moved to BC. This has put even more pressure on a system that was already grappling with high market housing costs and very low rental vacancy rates.
The new standalone BC housing ministry could be also taking a look at outdated Residential Tenancy Branch regulations as part of their work going forward, it was implied by Premier Eby today.
National housing day:
Premier Eby made the announcement about BC’s new housing ministry on National Housing Day 2022.
Other provinces that already have a separate housing ministry include Ontario and Quebec.
Alberta doesn’t have a separate housing ministry but addresses some aspects of housing under their Seniors, Community and Social Services ministry.
Manitoba addresses housing under their Families ministry.
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from the work of previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to the news of the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC and national news impacts. [See Island Social Trends Politics Archive].