What a day it was for housing/homelessness issues and city councillors sniping at each other over…housing and homelessness issues.
That day was Tuesday, March 12.
Let me first start with a motion introduced by Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr. She wanted to know the cost to supply 7,900 new supportive and social housing units by 2021, as outlined in the city’s homelessness strategy.
Carr also wanted the mayor to write the B.C. Liberal Party, the B.C. NDP, the B.C. Green Party and B.C. Conservative Party and have them respond before the May 14 election on whether they’re on board to buck up for more housing in Vancouver.
“There is a great opportunity right now to see if we can get more support from the various parties, one of which will win the next election are we’re hoping will follow through on its commitment,” Carr said.
Her motion didn’t get far after Vision Coun. Kerry Jang, who is a member of the majority on council, successfully amended the motion to strike the request for the cost estimate of the housing. He also left the timeline wide open for political parties to get back to council on whether they will hand over some cash.
Jang called Carr “naïve” to think city staff could estimate the cost of new housing since real estate prices fluctuate and staff still haven’t determined how much land is available for development.
“Which population are we hoping to serve?” Jang continued. “Are they women with families, who would then need two-bedroom units? Or is it male singles? Or is it youth, or whoever? Each building would then need specific types of housing in order to meet those needs and each one comes with a different price tag.”
Carr then countered saying staff could at least give an estimate —“a ballpark number” of the cost.
“I’m not saying give an accurate prediction,” she added, which set off Jang again.
“That is simply wrong,” Jang told her. “I can’t believe anybody would stand here and say, ‘We’ll just hand out inaccurate numbers.’”
On it went with NPA Coun. George Affleck getting in on the action. He referred to Vision Vancouver as the “farm team” for the NDP when expressing his disappointment over Jang striking the turnaround time for political parties to state their position on funding housing before the election.
“They’ve weakened the motion,” said Affleck, before Vision Coun. Raymond Louie interjected.
“It’s inappropriate that Coun. Affleck is ascribing political affiliation to each one of us as individuals,” Louie said. “I also don’t believe Coun. Affleck would want that to happen to himself. Is he part of the Nudist Party? I’m not sure. Or the Levitation Party?”
On it went.
Other relevant news from that day: The B.C. government announced it will continue funding the so-called HEAT homeless shelters for another 12 months — and the city began its annual two-day homeless count.
So far, no sniping over those items.