As Premier David Eby puts the final touches on his last Throne Speech before the 2024 election slated for the fall, the political horizon looks relatively bright.
The BC NDP has held its lead in public domain opinion polls, the party is leading the way in fundraising and a potential split on the political right puts it in a position where a third consecutive victory is in sight.
However, there are housing crisis storm clouds ahead for the province and the people who will cast their ballots this October. This session provides Eby the final opportunity before the election to articulate how he plans to help British Columbia deal with those challenges and goes to voters looking for third term.
Since he became premier in the fall of 2022, Eby and his Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon have made tackling the housing affordable crisis the signature focus of the government. The alarming rise in housing costs and availability is both a problem for the government and an opportunity.
Last fall alone, the BC NDP government brought in legislation designed to allow for more housing in traditional low-density neighbourhoods, expand zoning opportunities for builders, enable high-density housing near transit while at the same time restricting the use of short-term rental units so those properties are available for permanent housing.
This is on top of past efforts to address the issue including the introduction and expansion of the speculation and vacancy tax.
In the days, weeks, and months ahead, expect David Eby to say more about the housing crisis, not less.
This is likely to include new measures in addition to highlighting the dates when new housing legislation comes into force and the impact it shows on the ground.
Eby’s decision to go all in on this issue has at times put him at odds with municipalities who have lost their zoning decision making power, short-term rental companies and their property-owning clients, and all three opposition parties who have waged war against this plan at every opportunity.
Eby is more than happy to take on this fight.
Over the past seven years, the BC NDP government has continued to fight against those who are perceived as the problem in the housing crisis, not the solution.
British Columbians were happy to see the government penalize real estate speculators.
They are tired of seeing viable housing projects move forward at a glacial pace at the municipal level.
They are not especially pleased when they cannot find an apartment in the community where they live and work while suitable properties are available to visitors on a short-term rental site.
The opposition, especially BC United and even BC Conservatives whose leader John Rustad sat in cabinet with the then-BC Liberals, will point to rising housing and rental prices and suggest that Eby’s plan is not working.
By doing so, they ignore their own vulnerability on this issue given that the housing crisis started on their watch, and they did little to address it.
Political leaders sometimes find themselves in fights they don’t want to have and sometimes engage fights that they choose to wage.
David Eby has chosen this fight because he is confident he can win it.
To learn more about what this means for your sector, business, or association, please reach out to the Counsel Public Affairs team:
Jean-Marc Prevost, Vice President, Western Canada
Amanda van Baarsen, Associate Vice President, Western Canada