The Premier was joined by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Selina Robinson, in what was the first time in close to a decade that a sitting Premier of British Columbia has spoken at an event hosted by the Urban Development Institute.
The packed house of over 500 attendees was treated to introductory speeches by both Robinson and Horgan, each of whom stressed the importance of collaboration between all levels of government and BC’s development industry. This collaboration is crucial, they said, to ensure continued economic prosperity in British Columbia while easing the pressures of the ongoing housing affordability and availability crisis affecting communities across the province.
Following the introductory speeches, there was a question and answer period in which both Robinson and the Premier fielded questions from those in attendance. When asked how the Provincial government would assist with current delays in the development approval process during their 4-year mandate (when it can take even longer than that to bring a new development from inception to approval), the premier stressed the importance of helping both developers and municipalities streamline the process without being “too heavy-handed” in doing so, but offered little in the way of a specific strategy.
While Horgan and Robinson offered few specifics on how they intended to remedy the housing crisis afflicting so many British Columbians, they did not rule out the possibility of seeking assistance from the Federal Government in implementing both demand and supply-side solutions. Citing rapidly rising property values in communities outside of Vancouver like Victoria and Kelowna, the Premier maintained that a holistic approach to the housing crisis is the solution and that taking “comprehensive action” was necessary to avoid a situation where implementing a solution in one area, quickly manifests as a problem in another.
While there was an obvious effort from the Minister and Premier to bridge the apparent ideological gap between the development community and a new provincial government elected in large part on a platform of cooling the housing market, the absence of details regarding policies did little to quell feelings of uncertainty for attendees at the luncheon. With very little concrete information promised until the release of the provincial budget in February of next year, it appears Metro Vancouver’s development community will simply have to wait and see how far the olive branch extended at the event actually goes.