B.C.’s official opposition leader told Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention delegates that the province is heading in the wrong direction “by every metric.”
In a speech delivered Thursday at the UBCM;s 2022 convention, Kevin Falcon promised to work with municipalities on increasing the supply of housing among other issues including health care, public safety and mental health.
Falcon acknowledged the need for “much-needed changes” to increase housing supply in a timely way.
“Those changes will include legislative changes in Victoria that can help ensure that we can get that supply into the market,” he said. “The difference is that a Kevin Falcon-led government will work with local governments to ensure that we get the right balance of incentives and disincentives to ensure that we get the right results that we need for the public of British Columbia.”
He later said during his speech that a government under his leadership would “flood the zone” in terms of housing.
“We need more of everything — more condos, more townhouses, more single-family homes, where it makes sense, more of everything.”
Falcon later told reporters that such disincentives would be of a financial or non-financial nature such as “non-participation in provincial government funding programs” because “they are not doing their bit ensure housing is getting to market.”
Falcon reiterated his opposition to yet-to-be-formally-announced legislation, which he said would allow the provincial government to “dictate” density in communities.
“That will be end badly, because David Eby (currently running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party and former minister of housing) with the greatest of respect has absolutely no private sector experience, has no housing background whatsoever,” said Falcon.
Falcon also attacked the government’s record on health care, public safety and dealing with mental health during both his speech and press conference.
“The health care system is in a severe state of crisis in every part of this province and I can tell you in rural British Columbia is magnitude of orders worse than you see in the Lower Mainland, which is bad enough,” he told reporters.
He said earlier that one of the basic functions of government is to ensure public safety, which he said has been declining significantly.
“The second thing I’m hearing about is the issue of crime and social disorder and frankly, social chaos, in a lot of communities is the worse they have ever seen,” he told reporters. “It’s to a point of desperation.”
He promised an end to what he called government’s “catch-and-release system overseen by David Eby and the NDP” of prolific offenders through unspecified investments in the judiciary, but also additional investments in mental health, which would ultimately help reduce policing and other costs.
A government under his leadership would end what he called the “warehousing” of mentally individuals in hotels. Instead, he would bring forward “updated, modernized, but compassionate versions” of the now-closed Riverview facility to provide 24-7 care and support for those dealing with severe mental health issues.
Falcon’s speech did not spend much time on climate change. He acknowledged this omission during his remarks to reporters later, promised massive investments in rapid transits and encouraging the tech community to help bring forward solutions.
“It (climate crisis) will not be solved by government,” he said. “It will be the private sector that will lead the way.”
Falcon also acknowledged that B.C. Liberals made a mistake in handing over authority over dikes to municipalities, adding that spending money on this issue now will help save billions in the future.
“The province has to take more of a role,” he said.
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