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Editorial: Eby's housing message a shot across the bow

NDP frontrunner signals to municipalities the province will take a more activist role on housing.
Lonsdale Condo towers PM
Condo towers rise out of central Lonsdale in the City of North Vancouver.

Last week, NDP leadership front-runner David Eby threw down the gauntlet on housing. At an announcement on the North Shore, Eby made it clear that when he (likely) becomes premier, there are many more ambitious policy tools he’s willing to put to use to expand access to housing.

While housing produced by the private sector has skewed to the high end of the market, Eby has made it clear a provincial government, under his leadership, will be taking a much more active role in getting housing built that’s accessible to working people.

Among the other measures being proposed: a new tax on house flipping for profit, giving the province right of first refusal on purchasing older rental buildings, laws making secondary suites legal, and ending the practice of stratas banning rentals of condos.

Eby also proposes municipalities be required to set and meet targets for new and affordable housing based on their provincially mandated housing needs assessments.

While the province certainly has the jurisdiction to override municipalities, zoning has traditionally been under the control of local councils. In that regard, Eby’s shot across the bow is worth the attention of both candidates and voters prior to the Oct. 15 municipal election.

The timing of the announcement is hardly a coincidence. Nor, it could be argued, was the location on the North Shore, where two of the three local governments have been loath to say yes to any change.

Eby’s message: local governments willing to fast-track affordable housing will find a willing partner in the province. Those who don’t could face a senior government prepared to use the hammer – in a way not everyone will find comfortable.

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