Government rushing through important housing legislation

More debate is needed

By the time you read this, B.C.’s newly sworn-in premier David Eby will have introduced two new housing bills, with one week left in the (legislative) session.

If that seems rushed it’s because it is.

I am not sure what is in the housing bills yet, although I have some ideas. I have a wealth of knowledge about housing, having been in the industry for the last 25 years.

Some of you will remember Kelowna’s housing industry was not always this robust.

In the 1990s, when our economy tanked, many people left the province looking for work. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, there were no increases in housing prices.

In 2001, (former premier) Gordon Campbell and his B.C. Liberals were elected on a platform that included cutting personal taxes to help stimulate the economy. BC came back to life, fiscal prudence was brought back to budgeting and a professionalism about the dates and times of elections, budgets and bills was brought into the Legislative Assembly of B.C.

With that positive economic growth, housing started to post modest gains. Those modest gains were decimated by the worldwide recession from 2008 to 2010. Thankfully, due to investments by B.C. Liberal governments in infrastructure, like the William R. Bennett bridge, the expansion of Kelowna General Hospital and the introduction of UBC Okanagan, we saw jobs come back to Kelowna, along with an increase in housing activity.

As things started to heat up to a point that was beginning to get uncomfortable, two things occurred.

First, the B.C. Liberal government of the day started to invest in rental and subsidized housing. Second, a foreign buyers’ tax was implemented.

That strategy worked and B.C. posted a moderation of housing escalation once again.

The last six years with an NDP government changed that.

Housing prices are skyrocketing under the NDP and the leadership of then Housing Minister David Eby attempted to quell housing pricing by lowering demand through taxation, without addressing supply. The speculation tax and school tax are examples of that.

Finally, the now-Premier David Eby, has seen the light and acknowledged increasing supply is the most effective way to address housing costs. So he intends to table these housing bills this week.

Unfortunately, instead of vigorous debate and thoughtful dialog on amendments to the housing bills being brought in, the government wants to slam them through in a week, with little democracy.

Housing is a complex issue and one that desperately needs to be solved. The best ideas and solutions come through dialog and debate.

My question to you this week is this:

Do you think that the government should rush these important housing bills through without time for debate?

I love hearing from you. Please email me at [email protected] or call my office at 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for the Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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