Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield has charged the NDP to “stop the excuses and end the blame game” over affordable housing in B.C.
“Kelowna is another victim of this premiere’s housing flub, with one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country,” Merrifield said during a debate in the Legislature on Feb. 23.
She related the story of an 81-year-old Kelowna resident forced to live in their car because they are unable to find affordable housing.
“Despite a lifetime of hard work, paying taxes, and doing the right thing this senior has been abandoned by a government that promised better results.”
Merrifield added that the senior has been on a housing waiting list for two years.
“You know what they have to show for it? Nothing, but homelessness and no hope. I wish this was an isolated case but nearly 10,000 seniors are on waiting lists for subsidized housing under this NDP government and that’s a 50 per cent increase in the last five years.”
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon countered that coming out of the pandemic there has been global inflation and higher interest rates that have put pressure not only Kelowna but communities across North America.
“That’s why we’re making the historic investments we’re making.”
Kahlon noted that actions such as the speculation and vacancy tax, which was implemented in 2018, have helped put 20,000 units back on the housing market in B.C. He also pointed out that government is funding 1,300 housing units in Kelowna, 916 of which are completed, and approximately 400 under construction.
“So we’re making those investments, we’re building that housing that’s been needed for more than two decades.”
“Yes we are behind, two decades of under-investment we are behind, but all these investments are going to make a difference to support people and we’re going to continue to do that work.”