British Columbia boasts the strongest economy and lowest jobless rate in the country, but its growth is threatened by a shortage of affordable housing for workers and their families, said Premier John Horgan.
Horgan told the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that if a community can’t provide housing for workers, then they can’t build much-needed housing or sustain local economies. He said it’s a puzzle the provincial government is trying to solve through last week’s budget and the $7 billion investment in a decade-long affordable housing strategy that it promised last year, according to a report by The Canadian Press.
The provincial government’s affordable-housing plans involve building more rental units, increasing housing for post-secondary students and supporting home-building partnerships with community and church groups. Modular homes are also planned for homeless people, and the government is working with Indigenous communities for social housing investments.
“If you are going to recruit and retain the skilled workers you need, we as a province have an obligation to make sure we’ve laid the foundation for your growth and success,” Horgan said. “That means housing people can afford to live in, not just housing that can be part of the speculator’s dream of flipping property as if it’s just a commodity. It’s not.”
In agreement with Horgan about the housing problem, Catherine Holt, the chamber’s CEO, said that Victoria needs affordable housing for workers bypassing good jobs because they can’t find places to live in.
“The real estate is not affordable for people in our region anymore,” Holt said. “If we are going to have workers here, we need housing. The government has to invest in non-market housing solutions to enable that to happen.”