NDP leader in Queens to tout affordable housing, rent control

A man and a woman stand under an umbrella in the rain
NDP leader Gary Burrill and candidate for Queens Mary Dahr in Liverpool Aug. 2. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - CJQC/QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 03-08-2021

The leader of the Nova Scotia NDP Gary Burrill was in Queens Monday bringing a promise of affordable housing.

Burrill says the issue comes up repeatedly as local candidate Mary Dahr meets people on their doorstep.

“They hear over and over and over from people about the real serious problem of the availability of a place to live, about the numbers of people that are living in out buildings and are living in tents on the South Shore because of this unavailability,” said Burrill.

Dahr says rental options are particularly dire.

“I went to somebody’s house the other night, they were paying $800 and it was such a bad place,” said Dahr. “They have to hold on to that because there’s nothing else.”

Burrill says if NDP wins the election ensuring all Nova Scotians can access housing will be a core priority.

“We are committed to institute permanent rent control within a month of being sworn in as government, if we are able to form government in the election,” said Burrill.

The NDP leader says his is the only one of the three major parties who are on board with rent controls.

“Our view is, that a majority of Canadians, today, live in jurisdictions where they have protection from sudden, dramatic, unsubstantiated rent increases and people of Nova Scotia should have it too.”

Burrill suggests tying annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.

The PCs and Liberals argue the only way to provide more affordable housing is to increase the amount of available units and should be done, for the most part, by private sector developers.

Burrill agrees more housing stock needs to open up and there is a role for government in that process.

He says the Liberals have largely abdicated their responsibility to provide social housing by open fewer than 200 new units over eight years in power.

“We are committed, in the NDP, to doing much better than that,” said Burrill. “To getting the government back into the housing business in the way that it used to be, particularly with the opening up of options in co-op housing, various kinds of non-profit housing, social housing.”

Burrill also sees the need to provide stricter regulations on short-term housing rentals, like AirBnb, to ensure more of those units will be available to people wanting to live full-time in their communities.

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