Your humble organ has spilled much ink reporting on provincial Housing Minister Rich Coleman's apparent plan to focus on handing out rental supplements rather than building more social housing. But that's not the only change that will be happening on his watch. During estimates, Minister Coleman said his staff were "just finishing" nine years of negotiations that will see the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. handover the management and administration of its social housing programs and properties to British Columbia. And that handover, which has already happened in nine other provinces and territories, could result in a number of substantial business opportuntities for real estate development and construction interests. Selling-off some of those properties is, of course, an option - and one that has been exercised in other jurisdictions. But the government will also become responsible for modernizing and upgrading former federal housing - a project that could be bankrolled via public-private partnerships. Minister Coleman has not yet responded to an interview request placed almost two weeks ago (and renewed last week) seeking clarification and comment on his social housing plans, which he appears to have already discussed with the private sector.
February 6, 2006