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B.C. NDP touts housing legislation on final day of fall session

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Thursday marked the last day for the fall session at the B.C. legislature—a session during which the NDP government says it passed the most significant housing laws in B.C.’s history.

“There has been a significant amount of work that’s happened over the past few months to ensure that we have the housing we need,” said B.C.’s housing minister, Ravi Kahlon.

Over the past two months, the NDP has passed multiple bills aimed at creating more housing, including major restrictions to short term rentals, legislation that allows up to six units on single-family lots across B.C., as well as new laws that encourage higher density housing at transit hubs.

“We have to have affordable middle income townhomes, duplexes, multi-unit construction for everybody,” said Premier David Eby during Thursday’s question period.

The Opposition BC United says the new laws will have many unintended consequences but won't fix the housing crisis. In fact, on Thursday during question period, BC United leader Kevin Falcon read from an op-ed article in the Vancouver Sun penned by former NDP premier Mike Harcourt that provided a scathing criticism of the housing legislation.

“And this is my personal favourite, ‘providing a field day for land speculators,’” read Falcon.

In the article, Harcourt also wrote, “We need all-hands-on-deck for this crisis, but the problem right now is that the federal and provincial hands are running around the deck promoting a blizzard of arbitrary measures.”

Parksville’s mayor, Doug O’Brien, says his community will be severely impacted by the measures.

“We’re being hit with the same sledge hammer that’s being applied to Vancouver and Victoria,” said O’Brien.

Specifically, O’Brien worries that preventing short-term rentals in vacation homes will harm the town's economy.

“They are a critical part of our economy, so if we take those out of the loop, it means less tourists coming to Parksville,” said O’Brien Thursday.

Meanwhile, the BC Greens’ Adam Olsen says the NDP government didn't allow for enough debate, and failed to provide data to support its claims the new rules will create 130,000 new homes over 10 years.

“We’ve not seen the modelling -- we’ve not seen the analysis -- that’s how absurd this debate was,” said a frustrated Olsen Thursday.

The legislature sits again in February, when the government pledges to bring in more housing-related measures.

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