Terrace council candidates at the all-candidates forum Nov. 5 at the REM Lee Theatre.

Election 2014: Housing heats up Terrace forum

Housing emerged as a big debating topic at the Terrace municipal all-candidates forum held Nov. 5

Housing emerged as a big debating topic at the Terrace municipal all-candidates forum held Nov. 5.

And while many of the candidates agreed that scarcity and expense of particularly rental housing for people of low or modest income was critical, there were slight differences in how a solution would be approached.

Incumbent councillor Stacey Tyers said the next council might purchase land for a housing project in conjunction with a suitable partner. The money would come from the city’s new affordable housing fund.

First time candidate  Michael Prevost said looking after current housing is important.

“Maintaining and diversifying our existing housing stock needs to continue and be a priority for our next council,” he said.

In response to an audience question about the high cost of rents for students, another first time council hopeful, Craig Lyons, thought the city could strike up partnerships with educational facilities, using some of the money expected to flow into its new affordable housing fund.

Another first time council contender, Lucy Praught, suggested that part of the reason rents are unaffordable is because temporary workers on industrial projects in the area are being paid high living out allowances, allowing them to live in town as opposed to work camps.

She said that fixing this problem could be accomplished by getting companies to stop paying their workers these sorts of stipends.

Don Dunster, also running for the first time, said companies should provide their own housing for their workers.

Incumbent councillor James Cordeiro noted that more secondary suites are now being allowed, citing the Bench area as an example.

Another incumbent, Brian Downie, said as many as 190 new housing units will be ready by 2015.

When asked about renovictions during the mayoral candidate portion of the forum, candidate Carol Leclerc said the issue was really a provincial one.

“There is really very little that the city can do. We’ve got the affordable housing fund that’s been started so we can hopefully start building some more affordable housing,” she said.

Opponent Bruce Bidgood referred to the city’s development of a mixed use plan, including housing, for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site, saying city roads and sewer on the property could encourage developers to invest.

“You can make the water taste pretty darn good,” he said of ways to encourage developers.