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HomeNewsWho got a sneak peek of the BC Liberal housing plan last July?

Who got a sneak peek of the BC Liberal housing plan last July?

Bob Mackin

An aide to Deputy Premier Rich Coleman may have given someone outside government a sneak peek into the BC Liberals’ plans to address housing affordability. 

The government has refused to show who Coleman’s chief of staff, Tobie Myers, emailed the week before lawmakers reconvened in Victoria to regulate the real estate industry and impose a tax on foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver.

On July 19, 2016 at 9:32 a.m., Myers sent an email to someone whose name the government censored. It claims disclosure of the recipient would harm the government’s finances. 

Coleman (BC Gov)

“Following up on this one that we sent over to PVO [Premier’s Vancouver Office] last week – did you have any concerns?” Myers wrote. “We are expecting to see a draft [treasury board submission] based on this doc in fairly short order.”

The heavily redacted Summary of Provincial Housing Affordability Proposals was dated July 7 and released under the freedom of information law. Only one proposal, enhanced partnership with the federal government, is visible.

Those four pages were among the 26 heavily redacted pages released to theBreaker, which applied for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis and business case for the controversial BC HOME Partnership down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers. 

The documents indicate that a submission was prepared in September 2016 for Treasury Board, but the submission was not released to theBreaker, nor was any document containing a cost-benefit analysis or business case. B.C. Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay claimed that he has no copy of the cost-benefit analysis or business case.

The Premier’s office missed its own March 15 deadline to release documents it holds. In January, the finance ministry said it would release records, but only if $1,140 was paid. theBreaker refused and complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

theBreaker asked separately for a report about the methodology behind the already-disclosed numbers for the three-year, $703 million program. In a letter sent March 27 to theBreaker, the government claimed it needs to consult an unnamed third party or public body and set May 10 as the new deadline. The provincial election is May 9.

Last week, the government said 831 BC HOME applicants were approved since Jan. 16. By theBreaker’s analysis, that is 12.4 per day and it would be 2026 before Coleman’s stated target of 42,000 loans is reached.  

Meanwhile, NDP housing critic David Eby continues to wait for Coleman to release documents about $80 million in spending on two B.C. Housing downtown Vancouver projects involving party insiders. Coleman pledged March 23 in the Legislature that they would be released within a week. theBreaker reported March 10 about how Wall Financial sold a $6.7 million Chinatown property to B.C. Housing the week after Peter and Bruno Wall donated $400,000 to the BC Liberals in 2016. 

The BC Liberals promised in their 2001 platform that the party would make B.C.’s government the most open, accountable and democratic in Canada. 

HOU-2016-65165 by BobMackin on Scribd

HOU-2017-70825 delay to May 10 by BobMackin on Scribd