Over the last year, the biggest issue in local politics in B.C. has arguably been crime and safety.
It was the animating conversation in a series of elections in large cities last October that saw changes in government
. It’s been the biggest point of pushback between municipalities and the provincial government over the decriminalization pilot
, and it’s been the source of the biggest local political drama — courtesy of Brenda Locke’s campaign to end the Surrey Police Service that may have just come to an end
These topics will no doubt continue to animate city halls in this province in the months to come.
But as mayors and councillors prepare to take their annual summer break — which typically lasts from B.C. to Labour Day — there are signs of a resurgence of the issue that dominated civic conversation from 2015 to the pandemic in 2020.
We speak of housing. Or rather, the cost thereof.
"I earn just enough not to be able to use single-parent status but not enough to provide a home for my son, even though I have worked and paid taxes in Vancouver for 39 years."
That was the plea of Karl Eaton earlier this month in a story on how his $75K salary isn’t enough
to find a stable two-bedroom apartment for him and his teenage son in Vancouver.
Over the past two weeks, it’s been the second most popular article on the CBC British Columbia website that doesn’t involve a moose
The first was about landlords in New Westminster warning renters against installing AC units
, despite the rising heat. Close behind was the story of a person making $67K a year
but currently couch-surfing around Metro Vancouver because they can’t find a rental.
The articles were anecdotal but give more evidence to the feeling that big spikes in the asking price over the past two years have created a new level of precariousness and fear for renters, who make up 38 per cent of households in Metro Vancouver.
It’s now a rental market where we can say with some confidence a $2,000 listing is now something of a unicorn — not just for Vancouver, but for all of Metro Vancouver.
On July 20, there were 243 newly posted rental listings on Craigslist for the entire region. Just 11 per cent were under $2,000 a month.
On Zillow, it was seven per cent of the total listings. On Liv.Rent, it was nine.
That can have all types of spillover effects, both in how people live and how they view the politicians responsible for governing their cities.
In 2020, we wrote that crime had replaced housing affordability as Vancouver’s biggest hot-button issue
and said “politicians risk downplaying the emotion surrounding it at their own peril.”
Should the dominant topic reverse back to housing, the same advice will hold true.