Public Affairs Update Header
March 21, 2016
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

B.C. Liberals feel heat on housing affordability, pledge action

B.C. Premier Christy Clark responded to mounting pressure from voters and Opposition New Democrats on the affordability of housing in the Lower Mainland by announcing this week that her government will bring in new rules to prevent the practice of real estate contract assignment – also known as shadow flipping.

Clark’s announcement comes after a week where the New Democrats tapped into anger and frustration over the high cost of housing by organizing a town hall on Vancouver’s West Side that attracted a crowd of 750 people. BC NDP housing critic David Eby accused the provincial government of ignoring the views of British Columbians who are concerned that home prices have become unaffordable for ordinary British Columbians.

“There’s all kind of solutions available to them to rein in some of the speculation that’s happening, to rein in some of the international capital that’s coming into our market,” Eby said.

The BC NDP followed up the town hall by introducing two pieces of legislation aimed at addressing the housing crisis. The Housing Affordability Fund and Speculator Fee Act would collect a two percent tax on the assessed value of vacant properties and the money collected would go directly into a Housing Affordability Fund. The Property Transfer Tax Fairness Act would stop shadow flipping and ensure international property investors pay the Property Transfer Tax.

The recent frustration in Vancouver over unaffordable housing comes on the heels of a series of reports that younger Canadians are avoiding Vancouver over the high cost of real estate, and a City of Vancouver report indicating that thousands of homes in Vancouver are sitting vacant.

Northwest B.C. truckers rally for LNG development
As many onlookers in B.C. anxiously await the federal government’s decision later this month on the Pacific NorthWest LNG plant proposed near Prince Rupert, B.C., hundreds of truckers took the streets of Fort St. John and Fort Nelson on Wednesday to rally in favor of LNG development.

The Pacific NorthWest LNG decision is top of mind for the BC Liberals. They hope to have construction started on an LNG project ahead of next May’s provincial election, and they are hopeful the proponent group led by Malaysia’s Petronas will get the necessary federal approvals to proceed.

B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong has been in Malaysia over the past week to meet with Petronas representatives and discuss next steps to establish the facility.

Report increases B.C.’s natural gas supply
A new National Energy Board assessment indicates B.C.’s natural gas resources are larger than previously estimated.

The report focuses on the potential of the Liard Basin, a resource area within the boundaries of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The new estimate for B.C.’s portion of the Liard Basin is now 848 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, up from the provincial government’s previous estimate of 210 tcf.

This new resource estimate means B.C.’s total natural gas potential now surpasses 3,400 tcf. If industry were able to extract 20% of B.C.’s total resource over the long-term, future development and liquefied natural gas export operations could be sustainable for more than 160 years.

The report, titled “The Unconventional Gas Resources of Mississippian-Devonian Shales in the Liard Basin of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon” is available here.