B.C. Liberal leader admits he hasn't spoken to an advocate for the homeless in at least a month
Published Friday, September 25, 2020 12:12PM PDT Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020 6:44PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says community safety has declined as a result of the NDP's housing and mental health and addictions strategies.
At a campaign event in Yaletown on Friday, Wilkinson accused the NDP of "warehousing" people experiencing homelessness in the Vancouver neighbourhood.
He said it has resulted in increased street violence, intimidation and theft and added there's been a 21 per cent increase in assaults in the city and a 50-per-cent increase in business break-ins.
However, Wilkinson also admitted that he has not spoken with any advocates for homeless people in at least the past month, saying he's been focused on preparing for the Oct. 24 election, which was called Monday.
Speaking in Coquitlam, NDP Leader John Horgan said the previous Liberal government disregarded the housing crisis for years.
He said the NDP's speculation and vacancy tax saw 11,000 empty condos become occupied and added the tax has brought in $115 million in new revenue.
That money comes "from people who live somewhere else, who looked at Vancouver as a place to invest, not as a place to put down roots," he said.
Horgan said he understands that some people are concerned about the impacts of placing homeless people in hotels.
"I know other businesses understand and recognize that our communities are filled with people of different economic circumstances, different situations with respect to their mental health."
Horgan said a re-elected NDP government would focus on building a range of options, including co-ops and housing for those who are homeless.
Wilkinson said a Liberal government would launch a review of all property taxes and look at adding a tax on "paper" flips of pre-sale condos.
Asked about the proposed review, Horgan said the Liberals left a legacy of "runaway" housing costs.
The NDP government has built "more housing in three years than the Liberals did in 16," Horgan added.
On the issues of drug addiction and harm reduction, Wilkinson said the NDP's strategy needs to be followed but the province should also have strong prevention and treatment options.
He challenged Horgan as well as Green Leader Sonia Furstenau to three debates to hear their visions for the future of B.C. on the topics of economic recovery, housing and addiction.
"Problems are spilling onto the streets and the housing problem is turning into a community problem," Wilkinson said.
Horgan said Friday there will be debates during the campaign and he's ready to talk about any issues affecting the lives of British Columbians.
- With files from Brenna Owen
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.