Housing and homelessness the focus of Nanaimo by-election vote

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With the provincial by-election in Nanaimo only days away, our executive director, Signy Madden joined CBC Radio in both Victoria and in Vancouver to talk about the impacts of the election on Nanaimo residents.

When MLA Leonard Krog resigned in November, it shifted the balance of power in legislature. If the Liberal party wins this election they would have an even number of seats as the NPD/Green coalition, meaning the Speaker in BC Legislature would have to break every tie vote. It’s easy to see why all eyes are on this election.

Signy Madden joined Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo of Chamber president and CEO, on CBC Radio to take a look at some of the issues on the minds of voters. Listen to the 12-minute CBC Victoria interview here

This is what Signy and Kim had to say about housing and homelessness:

Housing and Homelessness

Both Signy and Kim agree that, without a doubt, housing affordability/homelessness is the number one issue for Nanaimo voters in this election, and something both parties need to pay attention to.

The issue of homelessness isn’t just about people who are already on the streets, it’s also touching those who are employed and can’t find affordable housing or seniors in tenuous housing who can’t manage the increases in the cost of living. Nanaimo has essentially seen the number of homeless people double over the last 18 months and can now count 70 to 80 encampments throughout the city. People who have never before been homeless are facing a new reality.

Nanaimo is seeing investments in supportive housing from BC Housing, which has invested millions in response to tent city. Whoever wins the election will need to continue to implement the poverty reduction strategy to address these issues.

The other influencing factor is the City of Nanaimo’s new mayor and city council, who are very engaged and eager to work with the province to address housing affordability and homelessness. The winning candidate in this election will need to work together with the city, social service agencies, and with the residents in neighbourhoods where supportive housing is added.

Get out and vote!

No matter which candidate you think will best represent the interests of Nanaimo, make sure you get out and vote in this by-election on Wednesday, January 30.

Find your polling location and other voting details here.