Wednesday’s celebration for Brandon’s first STEPP home took a political turn when a Brandon MLA defended a controversial bill.
Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell took a moment during the gathering to defend Bill 7, which recently came under fire in Brandon.
The bill — which would give municipalities the power to encourage or require developers to include affordable housing in new residential developments — recently received first reading in the legislature.
“That bill is going to pass, we are adamant and firm in providing a legal framework in this province mandating affordable and low-income housing,” Caldwell said.
“We do not, and are not, interested in creating low-income ghettos or high-income enclaves.”
Bill 7 was criticized earlier this month by city Coun. Jim McCrae (Meadows) who suggested the province was imposing rules that would discourage business in the province.
At its upcoming meeting on Monday, council will consider whether it will ask the province to withdraw the bill and renew consultations.
That would include consultations with Manitoba and Brandon developers.
J&G Homes president Jared Jacobson has also weighed in on Bill 7, questioning why it would be the private sector’s responsibility to provide affordable housing.
He, too, called for consultation with developers.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst was quoted in a provincial press release as being in support of the bill.
Her use of “we” in her statement rankled McCrae, who objected to Decter Hirst speaking on behalf of the entire council.
Caldwell said the criticism prompted him to defend the bill and the NDP approach to affordable housing during Wednesday’s ceremony.
He said the province is a strong supporter of partners involved in creating affordable housing such as Renaissance Brandon, the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corp. and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“Our commitment, as long as we are in office, is to continue to invest in affordable housing in the city of Brandon,” Caldwell said.
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