What happened: On Sept. 27 and 28, 2017, at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, held this year in Vancouver, delegates from B.C.’s local governments voted in favour of three resolutions to tackle speculation, flipping, commodity investment and other distortions to local housing markets.
What we did: 174 Gen Squeezers from all across B.C. wrote to their Mayors, Councillors and Directors asking them to vote in favour of all three resolutions, supported by detailed rationale. Great work everyone!
Who else was involved: All three resolutions were originally championed by Councillors from the City of Victoria. Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday championed A2 and what became B91 (with an assist from the City of Nelson). Councillor Geoff Young championed B14. The UBCM Resolutions Committee endorsed two of the resolutions, adding considerable weight. Hundreds of local politicians voted in favour, but the precise voting record isn’t available or public.
Where next: Each year, the Province of B.C. releases an official response to successful UBCM resolutions, which is expected later this year or early next. Regardless of the response, we’ll be working to ensure the thrust of the resolutions is adequately represented in the NDP’s upcoming “comprehensive housing strategy” that apparently will address “all the levers.” Super!
On my walk home one day, I got a call from Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt.
An hour or so earlier, I had left a message on his voicemail asking about three resolutions I had spotted in this year’s UBCM resolutions book.
All three resolutions were consistent with our principle of Homes First, aiming to reduce harmful demand from speculation, flipping, and commodity investment, and to tax real estate more fairly.
I knew Ben had helped to get at least one of them off the ground. Turns out, as Ben explained on the phone, he and fellow Victoria Councillors Jeremy Loveday and Geoff Young (with an assist from the City of Nelson) had variously championed all three. Tip of the hat.
When I told him we were thinking of mobilizing letters of support from local residents, Ben suggested that just might help push the resolutions over the top...
After launching our letter-writing tool, and within a span of 48 hours, 174 Gen Squeezers from all across B.C. had sent letters to their Mayors, Councillors and Directors asking them to vote in favour of "A2-Encouraging the Use of Residential Property for Housing," "B14-Restoration of Land Value Tax," and "B91-Tax on Vacant & Derelict Residential Properties."
Replies like this were coming in from all over:
“Thanks for the detailed analysis of these resolutions. I agree with your points...”
~ Janis Elkerton, Councillor, Pitt Meadows.
Just after noon on Sept. 28, Councillor Loveday from Victoria texted with the news that all three resolutions had passed, almost unanimously in the case of B91!
Successful resolutions like A2, B14 and B91 are non-binding, in that they’re directed at higher levels of government.
The province and federal government don’t have to accept or act on them, but the resolutions nonetheless hold weight.
They powerfully signal the collective stance of B.C.’s 189 municipalities and regional districts, helping to frame the debate and shape opinion on how to move forward.
Building on this success
B.C.'s new government is developing a “comprehensive housing strategy” that they say will address “all the levers.” Super! These successful UBCM resolutions will help us advocate for effective action on the 'demand' and 'taxation' levers, going forward.