P.E.I. Greens release housing strategy, say government not doing enough

As stories of P.E.I.'s housing crisis make headlines, the Island's Official Opposition has released its own housing strategy — outlining ways to address immediate housing needs, and plan for the future.

The Greens may not be in power, but housing critic Hannah Bell said the party felt a need to create its own strategy, as it doesn't think the governing Progressive Conservatives have done enough to address housing issues. 

"We are now two years into talking about this housing crisis … winter is coming, we've talked about the impact of homelessness and what will happen, and felt that we needed to answer that call for bold leadership, to step up with some action. And really that's what this represents," Bell said. 

The party's strategy outlines a list of 11 recommendations, with timelines for implementation ranging from immediate, to the spring of 2021. The party estimates a total cost over the next 12 months of $9.4 million, to put its plan into action.

11 recommendations 

Some of the recommendations laid out in the platform include:

  • Regulating short-term rentals. 
  • Providing long-term operation funding for Blooming House, the women's shelter in Charlottetown, as well as expanding emergency and transitional shelter services.
  • Providing renovation rebates and incentives to landlords.

Collaboration for me no longer means sitting passively on the sidelines. — Peter Bevan-Baker, Opposition Leader

The strategy also recommends addressing labour shortages by doubling enrolment in trades programs for P.E.I. students, with full tuition subsidies.  

"If we don't have builders and all the associated qualified trades, it doesn't matter how much money we throw at problems like this, where there literally is no one to do that building," said Bell. 

Sarah MacMillan/CBC

The release of this strategy comes less than six months after the election of the province's first minority government in modern times. The party said releasing strategies like this is nothing new for the Greens — and that it is a call for government to act. 

"We're still sort of figuring out what collaboration looks and feels like, but I can tell you that collaboration for me no longer means sitting passively on the sidelines and waiting for government to finally see the emergency that is so clearly unfolding before our very eyes in this province," said Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. 

Minister says he will consider suggestions

The Greens said they requested a meeting with Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson in July, and have not yet heard back. Hudson told CBC his department was recently in touch with the party, to set up a meeting soon.

Hudson said his party is committed to addressing the housing crisis.

"We all have the same goal in mind at the end of the day. How we get there, there may be differences in opinion on that."

Hudson said he had not yet had a chance to read through the Greens' housing strategy, but that he is "completely open" to considering the recommendations the party brings forward.

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