From left to right: Conservative candidate Mel Arnold, People’s Party candidate Kyle Delfing, Liberal candidate Shelley Desautels, Green Party candidate Andrea Gunner and New Democratic Party candidate Ron Johnston. The candidates all participated in the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce’s all-candidates forum on Sept. 10 and 11, 2021. (Sicamous chamber images)

North Okanagan-Shuswap all-candidates talk affordable housing

Sicamous chamber shares questions with candidates

  • Sep. 14, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Sicamous residents had a chance to press North-Okanagan Shuswap candidates with questions around local issues and concerns in a virtual meeting hosted by the local chamber.

In the District of Sicamous council chambers, candidates were individually recorded answering questions shared by the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce. The resulting videos were released by the chamber on Monday, Sept. 13.

Candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves before the chamber asked them all the same three questions to ensure fairness. Each candidate then answered two additional questions picked randomly from a basket. These questions were submitted in advance by members of the public.

The candidates fielded questions about the economy, affordable housing, pandemic recovery and more.

Sicamous Coun. Bob Evans was there to record the candidates’ responses. A playlist containing the candidates’ videos can be found on the Sicamous chamber’s Youtube channel.

Below are candidates’ answers to a question about housing. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What measures will your party put in place to create a more realistic housing market for first-time home-buyers in our riding? Do you have plans to assist with providing affordable housing projects for young families and seniors?

Mel Arnold, Conservative Party of Canada: The housing situation has become a crisis as there’s far more demand than supply. Our plan is to build one million new homes over next three years, ban foreign housing investors, and work with provinces and communities on affordable housing projects they want and need.

Andrea Gunner, Green Party of Canada: There are a few ideas the Green Party would bring in. We would strengthen regulations for foreign investment in real estate, and create an empty home tax for both corporate and foreign residential property owners with empty buildings or units. We’d prioritize funding for non-profit and cooperative housing, because when we help the lowest percentile it helps all of us.

Shelley Desautels, Liberal: We’re going to be building and retro-fitting 250,000 homes for the housing market. We’re going to put a tax on speculation, an anti-house-flipping tax. Speculators often buy houses that lower-income folks could afford, and jack up the prices. We’re going to have a rent-to-own program, so people can get out of the endless loop of, “If I’m paying rent, how can I save for a down payment on a home?”

Kyle Delfing, People’s Party of Canada: Subsidized housing gets out of control and drives prices up because government competes with the free market. Eventually government will subsidize all housing. Hedge funds, etc. are purchasing large swaths of real estate in Canada. Their plan of the great reset means you’ll own nothing and be happy about it; the People’s Party knows that plan will destroy society and make the cost of living insurmountable for the average person. By removing the Canadian government from the housing market, you’ll have one less bidding war to worry about.

Ron Johnston, New Democratic Party: The NDP will reintroduce 30-year mortgages and tackle the money laundering that has inflated prices in B.C.’s housing market. We will build 500,000 units of quality affordable housing over 10 years, with half being ready in five. We will create incentives for developers creating new, dedicated affordable rental housing. We will increase rent relief to struggling families and introduce a 20 per cent foreign buyers tax. We’ll fast-start funding for cooperatives and social housing.

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