Oceanside News organized a Zoom forum which gave the local candidates an opportunity to share their ideas and party platform on a variety of issues relevant to the Parksville-Qualicum area. The forum began with ideas on how to make housing more affordable.
John St John, Independent
St John said when he arrived in Parksville with his family they were homeless and had just $200. He said he is concerned about housing affordability and sustainability in the Parksville area.
“I want to make sure these houses are affordable, because as an employer, I’ve got staff who are living in their cars because they can’t get affordable housing. We cannot allow that anymore, it’s got to end,” he said.
St John added he has lived in Canada for 33 and never been able to afford his own house.
Michelle Stilwell, BC Liberal Party
Stilwell said new housing construction was stalled because of an outdated permit system. She said her party would provide tax relief to help people impacted by the pandemic and which will help allow them to remain in their homes.
“We have a $750 million commitment over three years in capital funding and $146 million in operating funding for our housing plan,” she said.
Stilwell added the Liberals would introduce a plan to target foreign property speculators and implement a higher tax for non-residents of Canada.
She said the property transfer tax is a challenge for young people trying to enter the housing market.
The BC Liberal platform includes eliminating the PST for one year and lowering it the next, in addition to eliminating and reducing a number of other taxes, according to Stilwell.
Don Purdey, BC Conservative party
Purdey said he would like to see the government help first time home-owners get into the market. He said he was given a $5,000 loan to build a house, where he lives today.
“You could even do a mini homestead type project, where you could have lots available for people and they could start off with a gravel road with water and hydro and people could build a home the way we did almost 50 years ago,” said Purdey.
He added it was cheaper in the long-term for people to own, rather than rent a home. Purdey said he wants people to be taxed as little as possible, including the property transfer tax.
“There is not a bottomless pit in my pocket, keep your icy cold hands out of my pocket. Try and reduce costs by having a government live responsibly within their budget,” he said.
Adam Walker, BC NDP
Adam Walker said his party would continue to work with the federal government to create more rental units.
“As a millennial, I know first hand how hard it is to get into the housing market. Our speculation and vacancy tax actually freed up 11,000 rental units in the province,” he said.
Walker said he supports including more exemptions to the property transfer tax, but maintained the tax would remain in effect under an NDP government.
“It does generate about $400 million a year for the provincial coffers and to commit to abolish it without having some sort of a replacement would be irresponsible,” he said.
Rob Lyon, BC Green Party
Lyon said his party would set aside $500 million to provide rental assistance to people who spend over 30 per cent of their income in rent.
“Our children are leaving the island and the cost of housing is going up,” he said. “We will work with the other parties and the government to make sure that whatever is put in place is fair.”