Wilkinson commits to increased housing supply, supports for forestry

Andrew Wilkinson, Leader of the Official Opposition, opened his address to UBCM delegates by criticizing the NDP decision to call an election in the midst of a pandemic, suggesting that his party was “sideswiped by the ambitions of John Horgan and the NDP," who have “embarked on what we consider to be an unethical power grab.”

Wilkinson pointed to the challenges for business posed by $6.2 billion in deferred taxes coming due on September 30 and cited a 2-month gap in governance with a government in caretaker mode as major risks with the early election call. “We need to rebuild BC, that’s going to mean that we first have to restore confidence,” Wilkinson said, noting that the Liberals would soon be unveiling a plan that would address employment, drug addiction, public safety, and housing supply.

On housing, Wilkinson called into question progress on the NDP’s commitment to build 114,000 units of affordable housing, suggesting that the Liberals would work with local governments to lower costs and “speed up permitting process”. He also emphasized combining housing with transit expansion, and supporting development of student housing to reduce regional housing pressures.

Wilkinson highlighted the importance of the forest industry for BC. “We all know forestry is in transition, but these people cannot be forgotten,” he stated, calling for investment in and protection of the forest land base, simplified processes and rules, and maintenance of environmental standards. Wilkinson promised that his campaign would be rolling out some “very attractive” environmental policies in the coming days.

He also stated that the Liberals would create the world’s first online regulatory registry to improve processes for mine development, permitting, inspection, and remediation.    

The Liberal leader concluded his remarks by emphasizing that “We need to do better, we can do better. Our two key priorities are very clear: to rebuild the health of our communities, and to rebuild the economic health of our communities through a recovery plan.”

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