The six MP candidates for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke discussed housing, public health, cooperation among local governments and the climate crisis, during an online forum released to the public Sept. 7.
Hosted jointly by the Sooke and West Shore chambers of commerce, the all-candidates event included the People’s Party of Canada’s Rob Anderson, the Conservative Party’s Laura Frost, NDP incumbent Randall Garrison, the Green Party’s Harley Gordon, Liberal Doug Kobayashi and the Communist Party’s Tyson Strandlund.
Each described to moderator and chamber president Karne Mason how their federal party’s promises on four public poll-determined topics would “actually trickle down” to their riding.
On housing and its unavailability for renters and prospective homeowners, Anderson led off with his party’s belief that the crisis “has been induced by irresponsible mass immigration into Canada swallowing up any and all available housing.” His party’s solutions, he said, begin with limiting immigration and simplifying permit acquisition for prospective developers.
Frost, who spoke next, said the issue affects seniors to students to low-income individuals. “The Conservative platform is to stop foreign ownership that are driving up market prices … and free federal lands for housing,” she said.
Garrison said the housing issue is one everyone knows in Greater Victoria. The NDP’s solution, he said, is to create more non-market housing, “250,000 units in the next five years,” excluded from private investment and price fluctuation.
Harley said a solution needs to involve all levels of government, from federal, provincial and municipal to First Nations within the band or hereditary structure. “We don’t need Ottawa coming into municipalities dictating what should be done,” he said. Their goal is to create 300,000 non-market units in the next 10 years, tied to public transit.
Kobayashi said the attraction of young professionals to Victoria’s emerging tech market is a factor in the lack of housing. “By constitution, land use is controlled by local government, and many local government regulations are driving costs up.” He said a greater supply of rental homes should come from developers incentivized by greater densification and lower approval wait times.
Strandlund said his party believes housing should be a federally protected human right. A federal policy proposal from the Communist Party of Canada would make housing a public utility, he said, by establishing federally protected land banks for the use of schools, health care and public works. “We can prevent developers and builders from snatching up valuable public land for profit,” he said.
Each candidate’s full responses to the four topics can be viewed at youtu.be/_0AhDXsPr8s.
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