Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Hous(ing) that Jack built

Canadian Budget for Housing

The NDP budget amendment was lauded upon by municipalities across Canada for a couple of reasons, primarily due to its provisions for affordable housing and the environment.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities passed a motion endorsing the NDP Budget and asked municipalities to pass the motion in their own communities. Canadian cities jumped on board. Housing and more importantly, affordable housing is one of the major issues facing our cities.

"...The amendment provided a $300 million top-up to the Green Municipal Fund; $800 million in transit funding over the next two years; and $1.6 billion for affordable housing." ~ FCM President, Duncan Mayor Michael Coleman in a Media Release June 15, 2005

The issue of affordable housing has been a dilemma for ten years across Canada with cuts having been made by all provinces except BC and Quebec. In BC's case, severe cuts began in 2002 with the BC Liberal government. Prior to that BC was on one of the largest expansions of affordable in our Province's history.

The federal Liberals have been throwing a few dollars into the program in the last few years, though it is peanuts when compared to what was there in the past. The NDP budget amendment saw 1.6 billion dollars put into the program, the largest infusion of dollars in affordable housing for over a decade.

Here in Kelowna, the federal riding of Kelowna Lake Country is held by the Conservative party as are the neighbouring Okanagan ridings. In most cases the MPs were first elected as Reform party MPs. The Conservative party was very vocal in its opposition to the NDP budget amendment. In fact the Conservatives voted against the bill along with the Bloc.

Former city councilor Ron Cannon, the Conservative candidate in this election tried to have the matter deferred or tabled. In the end he did not even vote as it was clear to him the rest of council was supporting it. Council passed the motion then requested that local Conservative MP Werner Schmidt be sent an email so Council could be assured he received its wish he support the budget amendment in time to vote. Schmidt voted against the the City of Kelowna's request.

Ironically Kelowna "Conservative" city council was also voting on an amendment to the Official community plan at the same meeting. The amendment gave a developer increased density. You guessed it, not one of the new units will be for affordable housing.

Housing and transit remain the number one issues facing larger urban centres. The problem is growing every day. It cannot go unnoticed that Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and former President of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities championed this kind of federal budget support on transit and housing for years. The first chance he got to do something about it in Parliament he delivered.

The Liberals did nothing but promise for twelve years. The Conservatives here in the Okanagan and across the country have nothing to show for their 12 years other than three name changes. That adds up to same-party marriage eh? Now that's just wrong.

Election, Liberal Party, Jack Layton, NDP, , , ,

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