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

With Treat Street cancelled this year because of COVID-19, the Sidney BIA’s sixth annual Halloween Spooktacular will give trick-and-treaters like Jennifer Weiss (right) and Heidi Duncan other options, including a free drive-in movie at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney BIA hands out Halloween Spooktacular

Key elements of modified Halloween celebrations include free drive-in movie at Mary Winspear

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
WorkSafe BC investigating man’s death during Oak Bay tree removal

Man was working for contracted tree removal company when incident occurred

A notice on the door of the Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. says it closes permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks location to close permanently after 16 years

Residents association seeks reason for closure set for Oct. 25

Environmental advocate, Dorothy Chambers holds up the body of Ollie, a well-known Great Horned owl found dead in Cuthbert Holmes Park on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)
Poison suspected after well-known owl found dead in Saanich park

Body of Ollie the Great Horned owl discovered in Cuthbert Holmes Park

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive on Oct. 20 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich the night before. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear spotted several times in Saanich likely to be euthanized

Conservation officers still searching for bear reported near Elk Lake Drive

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read