Opinion » Editorial


A press release last week announced 602 affordable housing units across the province were going to go ahead because the NDP government — even though it was cutting back everywhere else — was putting money up for housing. "Twenty-two developments sponsored by community-based organizations on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Interior can begin finalizing proposals for a total of 602 new housing units," the release said. "Affordable housing is a cornerstone of an economically and socially healthy community," Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Dan Miller said in the release. "When people have a decent roof over their heads, it is much easier to work, look after their families and contribute to their community." He almost sounded like he was running for Whistler council. The release noted that B.C. is the only province which continues to support the development of new affordable housing. The support is in the form of loan guarantees, interim development and construction financing and operating subsidy assistance to non-profit organizations that "provide rental housing options for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, single-parent families and other low-and moderate-income families and single people in need." "Despite the withdrawal from social housing by the federal government, the province has allocated new funds to more than 3,000 units of affordable housing in B.C. since 1992," Miller said. The funds will go to projects in Hope, Burnaby, Vancouver, Kelowna, Port Alberni, Cumberland, Parksville, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Prince George, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Salmon Arm, Colwood and Saanich. Coincidentally, most of these areas are represented by NDP Members of the Legislative Assembly. It’s a mug’s game to try and say which towns have the worst housing problems, but one would think Whistler’s ranks fairly high; it seems to get more press than most. The problem is primarily the result of inaction by previous Whistler councils, but the province should take some blame for the current situation — and the future spill-over of the problem into Pemberton — for selling the Village North parcels as quickly as it did. The fire sale hastened development, which has led to increasing numbers of employees which has escalated the demand for housing. So are we likely to see any funding from the province for future affordable housing projects, or even just making Crown land available for affordable housing at a decent rate rather than market value? With a Liberal MLA representing the riding and a NDP government in Victoria, don’t bet on it.