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Eby says governments must step up on housing, can't rely on private sector



British Columbia Premier David Eby has taken a firm stance on addressing the affordable housing crisis, emphasizing the need for governments to take a more active role rather than relying on the private sector. Speaking at the BC Non-profit Housing Association's annual conference, Eby expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of private sector solutions and highlighted the initiatives his government is undertaking to combat the housing challenges facing the province.


Eby voiced his frustration with the persistence of the belief in relying on the private sector to deliver affordable housing, stating that it's "hard to understand" why some politicians still advocate for this approach. Instead, he stressed the imperative for governments to step up and take responsibility for implementing effective solutions.


At the federal level, there have been proposals to sell public land and buildings to address the housing crisis. However, Eby outlined a different approach being adopted in British Columbia, where the government is conducting an inventory of provincially and municipally owned land. The goal is to leverage these public assets to build more homes, a strategy aimed at directly addressing the shortage of affordable housing.


During the conference, Eby conveyed the significance of the government's role in tackling the housing crisis, emphasizing that "it does matter who is in government" when it comes to housing policies. He expressed optimism about the potential for the federal government to allocate more funds for housing in the upcoming budget update, signaling a collaborative effort between the provincial and federal levels to address the pressing issue.


In addition to addressing the supply side of the housing crisis, Eby touched on the need for regulatory measures. He highlighted the recently introduced tighter rules for short-term rentals, acknowledging that platforms like Airbnb have become a part of many families' lives. However, he emphasized that the status quo cannot persist when vacancy rates are critically low, and individuals are purchasing properties to operate as de facto hotels.


"We can't leave any housing unoccupied," Eby asserted, underlining the importance of ensuring that available housing stock is utilized efficiently to meet the needs of the community. The premier's comments reflect a comprehensive approach to the housing crisis, combining increased supply through public land use with regulatory measures to prevent housing from being treated as speculative assets.


As the province faces what Eby described as "huge challenges" in the realm of housing, his remarks signal a commitment to proactive and impactful government intervention. The upcoming federal budget update holds the promise of additional financial support for housing initiatives, setting the stage for collaborative efforts to address the complex and multifaceted issue of affordable housing in British Columbia.


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