Editor’s Note: We asked the candidates in Oak Bay – Gordon Head a series of three questions. Here are their responses.
What needs to be done to address the affordable housing situation?
Bryce Casavant – NDP:
In 2014, the NDP told Christy Clark that speculators were pricing B.C. families out of the housing market. They immediately refused to act, and for the next two years, Christy Clark sided with her developer donor friends instead of B.C. families.
By the time Christy Clark was finally forced by the NDP and outraged public to acknowledge there was a problem, the average price of a detached home in Vancouver had gone up by over $600,000.
Even worse, Christy Clark’s tinkering only applied to the Lower Mainland, and did nothing to address families getting priced out of the Oak Bay and Victoria region.
The NDP would tax speculators who don’t pay taxes in this province. The NDP would also create co-op housing and close loopholes that allow bad landlords to raise rents beyond the legal limit, or unfairly evict tenants.
Alex Dutton – Liberal:
Affordable housing is a concern I hear on the doorstep, and it requires a multifaceted approach where transportation and infrastructure are all part of the solution. That’s why I’m proud of the steps our BC Liberal Party has taken to address this complex issue.
The BC Liberal government invested $855 million to improve rental housing – the largest housing investment in a single year by any province – to support the construction of 4,900 new units across B.C.; and 20,000 families each year are supported with subsidized housing. The province is partnering with BCers in the new HOME Partnership program to provide about $703 million in loans over the next three years to help 42,000 households enter the housing market.
An additional $1.63 million was provided to the Greater Victoria Transit Commission, adding 20,000 service hours and eight new buses. Significant investments in Greater Victoria include safety upgrades to highways and cycling infrastructure and partnering with the Government of Canada to invest $85 million in the McKenzie interchange project.
In our Island Platform, the BC Liberal Party committed to complete and assess the study of the E&N railway corridor for commuter service between Victoria and the Western Communities. Learn more: https://www.bcliberals.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-Vancouver-Island-Platform-2017.pdf.
Andrew Weaver – Green:
Solving the affordability crisis and ensuring that British Columbians can afford to live in their communities requires bold action. We need policies that work to get people into safe, affordable, and secure homes. The focus for the BC Green Party is on reducing speculation and cooling the market for residential real estate.
The BC Greens would do this by increasing the progressive nature of property transfer tax; increasing the foreign buyers tax and extending it across B.C.; introducing capital gains tax for lifetime gains above $750,000, on homes bought and sold within five years; invest in increasing supply of affordable housing; protect tenants and landlords, and maintain and enhance existing housing support programs.
In our riding specifically, there are opportunities to alleviate local rental pressure by increasing the supply of on-campus student housing at UVic and Camosun, thereby freeing up affordable units in the community. The roadblock to this solution has been the province preventing post-secondary institutions from taking on the debt needed to build more student housing on their land. It is an issue I have been challenging the government on, and one they have recently committed to advancing.
Identify the single most pressing transportation issue to constituents of your riding?
Dutton: With an active seniors population and students at Camosun College and the University of Victoria in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, having more cycling routes is vital to our community. The BC Liberal Party believes everyone should have a healthy, active lifestyle.
To support that vision, in 2015, as part of the $3.69 million investment in BikeBC to expand and build cycling lanes, trails and paths for B.C. families, our BC Liberal government provided funding of $52,828 to the District of Oak Bay, for Foul Bay and Lansdowne intersection bike lanes and bike loop detectors.
Weaver: The most pressing transportation issue in our riding is securing accessible transportation for all community members that is safe, efficient, and diverse enough to fit everyone’s needs.
For example, our bike lane infrastructure is lacking in many areas – along the Shelbourne corridor in particular. Many people prefer commuting by bike, but they need to be safe during their trip. When bike lanes are well planned and constructed more people begin leaving their cars at home – a great benefit to their health, the environment and local traffic levels.
On the flip side, I have heard from a lot of seniors in our riding who have concerns about the cost of their DMER test and the ineffective DriveAble test. Deciding who is allowed to drive and when a driver should have their licence revoked is an incredibly important decision that weighs personal freedom against public safety.
When a driver turns 80 they are required to see their doctor for a Driver’s Medical Examination Report (DMER) every two years. I believe the cost, usually $100-$200, should be covered by provincial health care. Seniors who are getting their DMER assessments done regularly are doing their part to ensure our streets stay safe. I do not think that is something they should be financially penalized for.
Casavant: Transit issues, particularly for seniors and students, continue to be a problem.
John Horgan and the BC NDP will work with mayors and other stakeholders in the Capital Region to explore the potential of a regional transportation authority and would make much-needed investments in capital projects and buses to support transit in the Capital Region.
What qualities do you possess that make you best suited to represent the riding?
Weaver: It has been my distinct privilege to serve as the MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head for the past four years. Oak Bay – Gordon Head is my home, where I grew up and where I raised my family. For the past four years I have worked to offer a distinct voice in the Legislature; one that is driven by evidence and principles, not partisan politics.
Before entering politics, I spent 20 years as a professor at UVic teaching climate science to the next generation, was a lead author in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and advised governments on their climate policies.
As an MLA I got the first opposition bill passed into law in over 30 years, which tackled the issue of sexual violence on our university campuses. This spring I got a second bill adopted into B.C. law, making it illegal for employers to force female employees to wear high heels in the workplace. I was also the only MLA to serve as an intervenor on Kinder Morgan, offering consistent and ongoing opposition to the expansion of any pipelines in B.C.
Under my leadership, the BC Greens are the only political party who have banned all corporate and union donations.
I care deeply about our community and I have a proven track of serving my constituents exclusively – not corporate or union donors.
Casavant: I have a lifelong record of service in the military, and as a conservation officer for B.C. earned international attention when I respectfully declined an order to destroy two bear cubs.
I followed the law and stood up for B.C.’s wildlife.
I have a proven record of doing what’s right, and would be part of John Horgan’s NDP team, which uniquely can form government and stop Christy Clark, who only works for her donors.
Dutton: As a lawyer, I’m trained to problem solve and collaborate to bring opposing parties together to find solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
As a young professional woman born and raised in Oak Bay – Gordon Head, I know this community very well.
I’m a good listener and I am already pursuing solutions to the derelict boats and the deer population that constituents in the riding have raised with me. I believe I bring new energy and offer a fresh perspective to the issues in Oak Bay – Gordon Head.