B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman and his federal counterpart Jean-Yves Duclos speak to reporters in Victoria June 28 after two days of meetings to plan a national housing strategy.

B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman and his federal counterpart Jean-Yves Duclos speak to reporters in Victoria June 28 after two days of meetings to plan a national housing strategy.

BC VIEWS: Politicians herded on housing

Justin Trudeau's new housing minister resumes the Liberal Ottawa tradition of meddling in provincial jurisdiction

The biggest risk of building and promoting a nanny state is that you get one, and then you have to feed it.

B.C. politicians are facing this situation in housing, after an entire generation has been taught by school and media that the government is supposed to control the global housing market.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t promised yet to house everyone in their location of choice, which overwhelmingly seems to be the most desired and expensive urban real estate in the country. But he sent his Families, Children and Social Development Minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, to B.C. to meet with provincial ministers to create a “National Housing Strategy.”

We haven’t had one for 40 years, Duclos declared. Oh dear, what a scandal.

Actually the reason is that housing is a provincial and local jurisdiction. As with health care, federal meddling via funding strings had largely been eliminated.

This is why Ottawa didn’t have a Families, Children and Social Development Minister until a few months ago. If you include housing, B.C. has three ministers doing those jobs, which is as it should be. Duclos’ job is to show that Trudeau really cares, in the style of Liberal Ottawa.

As for a national strategy, local and provincial poverty and homelessness elimination schemes have shown that governments might as well announce a Soviet-style Five-Year Plan for Tractor Production for all the good it does.

The choice of Victoria for the federal-provincial strategy meeting was less than ideal. The theatre over Victoria’s ever-growing “tent city” squat was continuing in and out of the courthouse next door, bolstered by professional protesters from Vancouver.

They took a break from ordering the media around at the tent camp, hauled their public address system over to the hotel where Duclos was meeting with B.C. housing czar Rich Coleman and other provincial ministers, and chanted their demands.

They even have a number, delivered via bullhorn by a large, loud fellow named Ivan Drury of something called the “Alliance Against Displacement,” an upstart outfit formerly known as “Social Housing Coalition.”

Drury led a chant of “77,000 homes! Build them now!” before his massed supporters made a show for TV of trying to force their way into the hotel where the ministers met.

Inside the hotel, Coleman indicated what B.C. intends to do with the $150 million share of federal money that Ottawa offered in its first budget. It’s going into programs that Coleman is rapidly expanding, whether it’s fixing up more run-down hotels or building new subsidized housing.

Coleman has been buying up buildings hand over fist in Victoria. He’s brought in the infamous Portland Hotel Society to show the capital how the poverty industry runs in the big city.

One of Victoria’s existing converted motels was recently partly gutted by fire, and this will continue to be a risk as “low barrier” housing becomes the main focus. People with a track record of wrecking social housing and camping in dangerous and unsanitary conditions are the political priority. Their priority is to get high and do as little as possible, and they’re coming from across Canada to good old B.C.

Meanwhile, the B.C. government is grappling with the higher end of the housing problem. Vancouver claims it will lead the way and impose a tax on vacant properties to discourage international speculation.

That may even work. At least it is being undertaken at the correct level of government, as part of the property tax system. But of course the city wants the provincial government to take over the job.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

A property at 1224 Richardson St. in Victoria is the subject of a rezoning application that seeks permission to build three low-rise buildings with 24 units, including four that would rent for below market rate. (Google Streetview)
Victoria development in Fairfield features subsidized housing element

Public hearings this Thursday (Jan. 28) for proposals on Richardson Street and Heywood Avenue

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will once again be transformed into temporary sheltering for 45 individuals starting in March. (Courtesy of the B.C. Government)
Temporary shelter to resume at Victoria Save-On-Foods arena in March

BC Housing signed lease with GSL Group from Feb. 1 to May 30

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VIDEO: Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read