BC Leaders Oct. 6
(photos compiled by Victoria Buzz via BC NDP Twitter, BC Liberals Twitter, BC Green Party Facebook)

In the first few weeks of the election, we asked our readers which issues mattered the most to them.

The third-highest voted issue was affordable housing and homelessness.

Here’s where each of B.C’s three major parties stand on the issue, according to their platforms and other comments.

BC NDP

The BC NDP is pledging a 10-year “Homes for BC” plan that offers short-term support for renters and long-term plans for more supportive housing projects.

In terms of rent relief, the incumbent party says they will implement a rent freeze until the end of 2021. After that, they promise to permanently tie rent increases to the rate of inflation.

The party is also promising to offer one-time payments of $400 to every rental household earning up to $80,000 annually.

This promise is a holdover from the last time John Horgan ran for premier. In 2017 he initially made the pledge to offer the $400 rebate, but during this minority government’s term the promise never materialized.

When asked by Victoria Buzz on October 7 why his government did not pass the rebate sooner, Horgan said the Liberals and Greens didn’t support it.

“We were not able to get it through a minority parliament because the Liberals did not support those who needed help, and the BC Green caucus didn’t support it either,” Horgan said.

The NDP also promised to create 2,200 units of supportive housing, however their platform says this would occur over the course of their 10-year plan — during which at least two elections would be held, per BC’s fixed election laws.

In addition, the party said they would explore public strata insurance options to offer lower rates, and would bring construction costs down, eliminating parking minimums on projects close to public transit and streamlining permitting processes.

On homelessness, the BC NDP referred back to their “TogetherBC” Poverty Reduction Strategy, launched in 2019, but said they had to wait for a panel recommendation coming later this year to “determine the best approach and path-forward to reducing poverty long-term.”

BC Green Party

The BC Green Party has promised to tackle housing affordability through rental subsidies, closure of tax loopholes, and a “housing first” approach to homelessness.

Leader Sonia Furstenau has referred to “sky-rocketing” housing prices and called for a goal of affordable housing for all by 2030.

The party plan calls for the implementation of a “means-tested grant” for low-and-moderate income earners who spend 30 per cent of their income on rent.

Earlier, the Green Party said they would spend $500 million on the grants, but did not specify how much money individual households could expect.

Furstenau later said that grants would likely be cut off around incomes of $75,000 a year.

“Housing affordability” is also detailed as a line item in the Green Party platform, with a pledge to spend $700 million in the first year, followed by $600 million in year two and year three.

The Greens also promised to close the bare trust loophole (through which owners can mask their identities through shell corporations), and to close loopholes in the speculation tax that offer exemptions for satellite families and foreign owners.

In terms of housing supply, the BC Green Party says they would establish a capital fund to “support the acquisition and maintenance of rental housing by nonprofits to maintain affordable rental units.”

BC Liberal Party

The BC Liberal Party said they would focus on implementing tax and permits changes to increase housing supply around the province.

Included in their promises on tax reform are a pledge to reform the speculation tax to a “condo flipping capital gains tax,” and a pledge to implement higher property taxes for non-residents of Canada.

“It’s done in many jurisdictions in the world, from New Zealand to Texas,” said leader Andrew Wilkinson on Friday.

“We can do it too, to control foreign purchasing of property by non-Canadians.”

In terms of regulations and permits, the BC Liberal Party says they would require mandatory reviews of zoning bylaws every five years as part of Official Community Plans at the municipal level.

The Liberals also said they would spend $750 million on BC Housing’s capital operating budget, and $146 million on their operating budget.

They pledged to modernize the BC Building Code to address accessibility, energy efficiency and strata insurance premiums, while also providing energy efficiency rebates for rental home renovations.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the parties’ positions on COVID-19 and economic recovery.

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