Taking Action on Housing Affordability

UBCM President Wendy Booth updated delegates on UBCM’s advocacy, program delivery and collaboration with the Province during an address Wednesday.

Booth praised the response of local governments and the Province working together responding to the 2018 flood and wildfire seasons. Noting that all levels of government need to work together on climate action, she also spoke to the need for continued investment in programs that support climate adaptation. Booth also expressed appreciation for the provincial staff that have been available throughout Convention to meet with delegates and discuss this year’s response.

UBCM’s efforts to advocate membership positions on the current housing crisis also featured in the address. In February, UBCM released a strategy calling for a complete renewal of housing policy by all levels of government to restore affordability and address the challenge of homelessness. “We have reached a crisis point where substantive changes are needed,” said Booth.

UBCM advocated a balanced approach to address both supply of, and demand for, housing. On the supply side, communities across BC are facing a shortage of purpose-built rental housing and supportive housing. Booth noted policies over the past decade have focused almost exclusively on increasing supply have so far failed in delivering affordability. Greater attention, she said, needs to be given to the forces driving demand, including the impact of foreign and domestic speculation.

Booth praised the quality of consultation undertaken by the Province with UBCM over the past year, noting the successes of collaborative efforts on campaign finance reform and cannabis legalization. Local governments remain frustrated, though, by the prospective impacts of the Employer Health Tax and changes to the Fire Safety Act on local government finances.

The past year has also featured significant transfers of federal and provincial funding to local government infrastructure through a number of programs. These investments are playing a significant role in supporting local governments in the renewal and expansion of core facilities in BC communities.

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