Alistair MacGregor. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Editorial: Time for federal government to get to work

Housing identified as the area’s biggest priority

Our newly re-elected member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor, immediately following the election on Monday, Sept. 20, identified housing as the area’s biggest priority.

The NDP candidate, who successfully defended his position as MP for the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding, certainly has his finger on the pulse with that one.

Housing stock is critically low in the Cowichan Valley, especially of the affordable variety. Not only are there few residences that can be purchased for less than $450,000 (the benchmark price for a single family home in the Cowichan Valley in August was a whopping $733,600, according to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board), a decent rental, if you can find one is often also deeply unaffordable. Many rentals of modest accommodations will set you back more than $1,000 a month.

Add to that the fact that one relatively large rental apartment building in Duncan recently moved out all of its tenants in order to do renovations, and another condo building was struck by a fire that has necessitated all of the occupants to move out for months at the least, and rentals in Cowichan are full to the brim. Good luck if you have a furry family member (and we don’t mean uncle Bob who decided to grow a pandemic beard).

Two supportive housing developments at various stages of progress are good news for getting the most desperate off the streets.

But we need a lot more than that. We need quiet, clean, safe rentals where rents are affordable for those who may not make as much money, but nonetheless keep our communities running. Everyone deserves a place to live.

Other post-election priorities for the federal government must also include real work on climate change, not just promises. Time is running out to address this crisis that is already affecting us all, and we need national leadership and tangible solutions.

We also need to see action on the opioid crisis, which has become overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic in which we remain embroiled. And of course we are a long way from full recovery from COVID.

To really get anywhere on these essentials we will need a federal government willing to work together to get things done. We cannot allow partisanship to create stalemates, leaving us in a quagmire. Indeed with a minority government elected, cooperation will be the name of the game. Time to get to work.