Four Federal candidates on local housing issues

October 4, 2008 at 12:31 am 2 comments

I attended a breakfast meeting last Wednesday put on by the Victoria Real Estate Board on housing and affordability issues. The local candidates for the upcoming Federal election were invited and Briony Penn (Lib), Jack McClintock (Cons), Denise Savoie (NDP) and Andrew Lewis (Green) showed up.

Those of us at the Ambrosia Centre on Fisgard noshed on scrambled eggs as we witnessed a spirited debate. The four candidates answered questions and sparred with each other over homelessness, affordable housing funding and what the Federal parties platforms were. I haven’t been following the Federal Election with much interest until now and don’t have a strong liking to any candidate or party this time around so it’s fair to say I watched with an unbiased albeit slightly cynical eye.

PC candidate McClintock (Jack Layton’s separated-at-birth twin) touted Stephen Harper’s pledge of $1.9 billion to combat homelessness. Several times he reminded us that a strong economy is the key to solving homelessness. Penn called for more rentals, secondary suites and a rollover of the capital gains tax which would spur rental creation. Savoie played up her housing record while on Victoria City Council and called for inclusionary zoning rules. Lewis said income splitting would help.

The debate inevitably veered towards environmental issues with much discussion over retrofitting older homes. Several candidates noted that achieving greenhouse gas emission targets for residential housing was impossible when so many houses are old and in desperate need of fixing. But environmental upgrades are expensive and many owners of older homes don’t have the funds to undergo extensive renovations.

Penn took McClintock to task over voluntary environmental compliance, saying they simply don’t work. She was fiesty and was well-prepared, giving tangible solutions and dishing out facts. When McClintock mistakenly referred to the Harper “administration”, Penn shot back saying, unless we’ve recently been annexed by the United States, we have a Government, not an Administration. McClintock was at a disadvantage as all he really was able to bring to the table was the $1.9 billion pledge which was called merely a rehash of previously announced programs. Still, he surprised some with his endorsement of the Woodwynn Farm project. Savoie scored points with some with her Council accomplishments, while Lewis kept up with the others but didn’t say much that stuck to my memory.

It was a worthwhile and entertaining morning and I was happy to hear Federal candidates talking about our most pressing local issue. Also it was great seeing all Victoria’s housing advocates together in one room. Thanks to Jim Bennett of the VREB for organizing the event. Remember to press your local Municipal, Provincial and Federal candidates on their plans to provide affordable housing options in the upcoming elections.

Entry filed under: Election 2008, social issues, urban design.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Davin Greenwell  |  October 5, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    This sounds like it would have been a very interesting event. I’d be interested in attending something like this, but I haven’t seen any invitations or advertisements for such events. Where do you find out about this kind of thing? I know a lot of people in my generation who are interested in making informed voting decisions, but opportunities to make the local leaders tangible through events like this seem rather limited, if not invisible to me. Any tips are appreciated!

  • 2. Robert Randall  |  October 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    It was somewhat of a last minute affair. I only learned about it from the VREB’s Jim Bennett a few days before. Admission was $20 and included a modest buffet breakfast.

    Events like this pop up all the time. To keep in the loop I would recommend subscribing to the newsletter put out regularly by the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the Urban Development Institute for starters. Also keep an eye on where events are often posted in their forum.


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