Sarnia Lambton candidates wrestle over housing

·3 min read

Housing was at the top of mind as The Sarnia Real Estate Board hosted an all-candidates forum at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club on May 18. Only three candidates in the Sarnia-Lambton riding participated in the mid-day event.

“It is not the government’s job to provide the housing for people who are taking the jobs. It might be the government’s job to get out of the way,” said Keith Benn, of the New Blue Party, after a question about the lack of housing and affordable daycare He could see the government making a financial contribution to help with daycare but the first thing to do is to talk to the industries, which are coming to Sarnia-Lambton and see what they can do to provide child care for their workers.

“We have a great housing plan,'' said incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate Bob Bailey. "Just last year, there were 100,000 homes built in the province, which is the highest it has been in 30 years." His government has set a target of 1.5 million homes being built over the next 10 years. He knows there have been homes built in Petrolia, Plympton-Wyoming and St. Clair Township, even in Oil Springs where there were six homes constructed.

“Doug Ford had his chance to fix this but things have only gotten worse over the last few years,” said Dylan Stelpstra. He was most concerned about the cost of living as he said Ontario needs a government who is going to act in the best interest of those who have been left behind. People are worried about the cuts to social services and health care, as well as the cost of mental health care, dental care and prescriptions.

“The NDP have a pharma-care plan and a dental care plan which has been costed out and is absolutely doable,” he said. This would put more money into people’s pockets and could make it easier to put money down on a down payment for a house or to pay rent. He did say the NDP plans to crack down on buying homes on speculation and change exclusionary zoning to make it easier to build homes.

Bailey wants to see zoning decisions being made by professionals and keeping them away from municipal councils. Benn disagreed. “I am a big believer of keeping politics as local as possible.". Municipalities should make decisions about zoning and if the province is standing in the way, he is in favor of making changes. The worst thing you can do is get more than one level of government involved with an issue.

“These bureaucrats, if it is not their idea, I will tell you I know what I would like to do with them but I don’t have the ability to do that,” said Bailey. People have spent a fortune trying to accommodate the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment.

Benn reminded Bailey the bureaucrats just enforce legislation that has been passed by the government. “If that legislation is bad, it needs to be changed,” he said.

Blake Ellis, The Independent

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