News / Vancouver

B.C. housing costs 'huge driver' of how province may vote: pollster

As election writ drops, new Forum Research survey finds majority of voters think B.C. Liberals ‘haven’t done enough’ to curb affordability crisis.

Premier Christy Clark and Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing, announced a new interest-free loan program for first-time homebuyers in Surrey Dec. 15

Contributed/John Lehmann/BC Liberals

Premier Christy Clark and Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing, announced a new interest-free loan program for first-time homebuyers in Surrey Dec. 15

On the first official day of the month-long provincial election campaign, an opinion poll released Tuesday suggests the majority of voters are unhappy with the B.C. Liberals handling of unaffordable housing costs.

Just 14 per cent of those polled said Premier Christy Clark’s government had done enough to fight housing prices — which nine-in-ten rated as too high — according to Forum Research, which conducted the phone survey of 1,040 voters.

That’s roughly four times fewer than the 51 per cent who said the province hasn’t done enough, and 27 per cent who think the government has taken some action on the issue but still not enough to address it.

“By far people are saying the government is not doing enough,” explained Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff in a phone interview Monday. “When you look at those results, broken down by voting intentions, this is a huge, huge driver of how people are going to vote … perhaps the major driver of the election result.”

While many Vancouverites might scoff at the news that 88 per cent of the province thinks housing costs are high — considering how dramatically the city’s home prices have spiked out of reach of many in the city — Bozinoff said the real shock was how much of the province has come to share that feeling.

“I was a little surprised that people are feeling that way not just in the Lower Mainland, but also Vancouver Island and even in the Interior,” he told Metro, citing the 55 per cent in B.C.’s Interior who said housing costs were very high. “It’s a widespread problem.”

As for how the issue may play out ahead of the May 9 election, Bozinoff said that’s yet to be seen as the campaigns unfold.

But with the Liberals releasing their election platform on Monday promising more help for middle class homeowners and young adults entering the market — and the B.C. New Democrats reportedly planning to release their housing platform on Thursday — the issue may be the Opposition’s to lose on.

“It’s possible the government has underestimated the severity of how much this problem is bothering people,” he suggested. “It’s a major issue and a big pocketbook issue.

“Housing is a necessity, not a luxury. We’re talking about a large financial impact on people’s lives. I don’t know if the NDP will have a credible alternative plan for dealing with it, but this is an opportunity for them. But their plan needs to be credible and effective.”

The telephone poll was conducted April 5-8, and surveyed 1,040 randomly selected B.C. voters. Forum Research stated its margin of error was three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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