VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government says it’s already seeing positive results from the policies it put in place to address the housing crisis, but one expert says there’s still a long way to go.Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the government is seeing some high-end house prices starting to drop.“Right now we’ve got the speculation and empty home taxes, so part of what we need to do is monitor the impact that it has and continue to see what it does,” Robinson said in an interview Sunday.Luxury home sales drop 35% in Toronto and Vancouver, but millennials fuel rise in high-end condo salesB.C. to allow homeowner groups to fine defiant short-term rental hosts $1,000 a dayMixed-use developments make housing affordability worse — and residents more miserableBut Andy Yan, the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, says that while very expensive houses are starting to show a decline in price, the numbers haven’t translated to mid- and lower-level units.“Sixteen months is a little bit premature to know whether the polices are a success or failure,” Yan said, referring to the approximate time the NDP minority government has been in power.“But the softening of the market and cooling of the market is something that is definitely happening.”He said despite that softening, home ownership remains out of reach for many middle- and lower-income families.To tackle the issue, the provincial government is investing $7 billion on affordable housing over the next 10 years, and has developed a 30-point plan to increase affordability.However, Yan said some of the announcements made by the government are just that — announcements.“They are not actual shovels in the ground yet,” he said.While there is some actual construction going on, he said it’s still going to take years before the promises take the shape of homes that people can move into.“It will take a combination of supply and demand policies to really get us out of the housing crisis mess,” he said.Meantime, B.C. Premier John Horgan says the housing crisis didn’t happen overnight — and it won’t resolve overnight.Addressing attendees at a housing conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Horgan said the government will have to work with partners including Indigenous communities, transition housing and social justice advocates and women’s groups to resolve the crisis.Horgan said it’s not just affecting those who have small incomes, but is creeping into the middle-class too.He said his government is doing its best to ensure that critical work staff such as teachers, nurses and construction workers have houses so that they can build the economy.British Columbia should not be a place to fear because of unaffordable housing, Horgan said. read more

Activists urge Ontario to deny Nestle water-taking permit at well a town wanted by Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 13, 2016 12:22 pm MDT Last Updated Oct 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Environmentalists are urging the Ontario government to deny Nestle a water-taking permit at a well it purchased that was also wanted by Centre Wellington, a small but fast growing community about 100 kilometres west of Toronto.The township tried to buy the well for its future drinking water supply but lost out to Nestle, which purchased the site as a backup for a well it owns at its bottling plant in nearby Aberfoyle, Ont.Mayor Kelly Linton won’t reveal how much Centre Wellington bid for the Millbrook well site, but insists it was more than Nestle’s conditional offer, which the company made while it waited for permission to test the quality and quantity of the water.“They didn’t outbid us,” Linton said in an interview. “We put more money on the table and we also had no conditions.”But Nestle waived its request to test the water before the sale and didn’t even have to match the township’s bid because it had right of first refusal on the site, added Linton.“They just had to remove their conditions,” he said.Wellington Water Watchers, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting the local watershed, said the Ontario government has to decide between the competing interests of a huge, multinational company and the public’s need for drinking water.“We now have an example that when water is put out to the highest bidder, it looks like the people are going to lose,” said Water Watchers’ board chairman Mike Nagy.“The province has to make a very difficult decision here and it’s going to be quite a precedent, with the eyes of the world on Canada now.”Nestle insists it didn’t know it was competing against the township when it waived the conditions and exercised its right of first refusal to buy the well.But Nagy said there were two reports published that made it clear Centre Wellington, which is designated for greater development under Ontario’s Places To Grow Act, would need a new water supply within 10 years.“It wouldn’t have been a great mystery for them to figure out who was bidding for that well,” he said. “We’re determined not to see any permits issued for the site unless it goes to the township because the people are going to need that water.”Linton said he appreciates the support the community has been getting from environmentalists and the public, but rejected calls for a boycott of Nestle because the company has followed the existing rules.“The focus should be on changing the rules so that it gives municipalities more of an opportunity to take water than anybody else,” he said. “You can’t blame a company that is playing by the rules of the game.”Meanwhile, Nestle is allowed to keep taking up to 3.6 million litres of water a day for bottling from its well in Aberfoyle while the province reviews its renewal application for a permit that expired in July. Nestle can also take up to another 1.1 million litres a day at a well in Erin, another community in Wellington county.Municipalities, mines, construction companies and golf courses — in addition to the water-bottling companies — are allowed to take a total of 1.4 trillion litres out of Ontario’s surface and ground water supplies every day.Premier Kathleen Wynne ordered a review of the province’s water-taking permits to be completed this fall, and said she wants new rules specifically for bottled water companies.“Water bottling is a different kind of industry and we need to treat it differently, Wynne said earlier this month.Ontario charges companies just $3.71 for every million litres of water after they pay a permit fee of $750 for low- or medium-risk water takings, or $3,000 for those considered a high risk to cause an adverse environmental impact. British Columbia charges $2.50 for every million litres, while Quebec charges $70.Critics say simply charging companies more won’t protect the water, while some environmentalists are pushing for a total ban on giving permits to companies that remove the water for bottling.Alex and Tyler Mifflin, stars of “The Water Brothers,” an eco-adventure TV series commissioned by TVOntario, plan to tie blue ribbons around trees outside the Ontario legislature Friday in a show of support with the people in Centre Wellington in their fight with Nestle.—Follow @CPnewsboy on Twitter read more