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Homelessness, poverty top concerns for voters, poll shows

A Research Co. poll found 39 per cent of British Columbians ranked poverty and housing issues their No. 1 concern.
Moccasin flats
Temporary shelters are seen in the Lower Patricia encampment, named Moccasin Flats by its residents.

A poll conducted earlier this month showed that homelessness, poverty and housing were the top concern for B.C. voters, ahead of the Oct. 15 general municipal election.

The Research Co. poll of 2,000 British Columbians, conducted June 12-14, found that 39 per cent of voters rated housing and poverty issues their top concern, more than double the national average. Healthcare, at 18 per cent, was the second most common answer.

“These results and the importance of this as an issue should send a clear message to all incumbents and candidates seeking municipal office this fall that they need to bring a real commitment and real ideas to the table,” said Mario Canseco of Research Co. in a statement issued on Wednesday. “The need is great, and the research shows that voters will be prioritizing candidates that will commit to taking concrete action to address local housing needs.”

The poll also found that 73 per cent of British Columbians polled supported streamlining municipal permitting and rezoning processes to fast-track development of rental housing, especially affordable rental housing.

Those polled were also 77 per cent in favour of using public land for non-profit and co-op housing developments, 67 per cent supported waiving development cost charges for non-profit and co-op housing projects and 66 per cent supports streamlining the approval for such projects by allowing city staff to approve projects which are consistent with the official community plan.

The poll showed 68 per cent of people were in favour of including affordable housing targets to meet the needs of Indigenous people

The poll was conducted on behalf of the for BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association.

“With upcoming civic elections, voters should remember that municipalities shape the future of communities and the type of housing options that will be available decades into the future,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association, in a statement issued on Wednesday. “While the challenges are clear, there are also solutions. British Columbia’s non-profit housing sector has the solutions and expertise to be an essential partner for local governments to help solve the housing crisis.”