As I knocked on doors leading up to the Spring 2017 election, there was no question what issue was top of mind. Housing.
I heard over and over again the stories of a lack of affordable, accessible and safe housing. As the MLA, housing continues to be a top concern.
The housing problems cover a wide spectrum: proximity to work or school, security of landlord/tenant rights, under-utilized housing, crowded and unsafe housing, skyrocketing prices, fear of a collapse, the impact of foreign capital and domestic capital overpowering limited local capital, fairness, housing for seniors, housing for young people and families, housing for workers.
Saanich North and the Islands is a diverse riding with people across the socio-economic spectrum. Housing issues in our riding are being expressed on every street, in every neighbourhood, in every community and on every island. While the concerns are different, the unifying theme is the same - the current housing situation is not working.
It speaks to the universality of housing. Along with food and clothing, housing is a basic need.
We know that when people are housed, when they do not feel threatened in their home, they are happier, more productive and require fewer supportive services from government. Our homes are at the centre of our well-being, essential for security in our society and a resilient economy.
Over the past decade the provincial government treated housing primarily as a commodity. They became reliant on the huge revenues, and as other plans such as LNG failed to materialize, they needed the cash the housing market was generating to keep up the appearance of their most important narratives, “strong economy and balanced budgets.” Even though they were hollowing out our communities and our society in the process. This is one of the reasons we so desperately needed to change government.
The course of our province must be corrected. It will not be easy, likely controversial, and just as I have heard the tragic stories the housing crisis has created, the correction will impact people as well. There is no way around it.
People in our riding - our friends, family and neighbours - are struggling. So, following the election I and my colleagues, Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau, began to strongly advocate for the government to take bold action on the housing crisis.
I am happy that the current government has began to take action. They have outlined an aggressive program to address some of the supply that is needed in purpose-built rentals, supportive and low-income housing. They are investing in housing for First Nations.
On the demand side of the issue, it has not been perfect. Mistakes have been made, some of their proposals have been contested and their roll-out has been confusing. There is no doubt that in the process people and their investments have been impacted.
It is encouraging that government is finally coming face-to-face with these challenges and the challenge that I face this fall is not lost on me as I will be debating legislation dealing with the much talked about “speculation tax”.
These are such important issues and I want your input.
First, I ask that you take a few minutes to visit http://www.placespeak.com/adamolsen to provide your feedback and opinion on the housing situation.
Second, I am hosting a Community Dialogue on Housing on Saturday September 22, 2018 from 4:00pm - 5:30pm at the Gulf Islands Secondary School (232 Rainbow Rd.) Please join me to help inform my position as I navigate these critical issues this fall.
Adam Olsen MLA
Saanich North and the Islands