Rental Housing Task Force begins public-consultation tour tonight in Maple Ridge

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      Today (June 4) B.C.'s Rental Housing Task Force holds its first public meeting that's part of a consultation process to review and reform tenancy laws and regulations in B.C.

      The first of 10 stops around the province, tonight's meeting will be held in Maple Ridge at Thomas Haney Secondary School (23000 116 Avenue) beginning at 6 p.m.

      On Wednesday (June 6), the task force will travel to Nanaimo, and then to Kelowna next Tuesday (June 12).

      Subsequent stops include Prince George on June 20 and Victoria on June 26. The tour will end in Vancouver on June 27.

      A complete list with event details for all 10 stops is available on the Rental Housing Task Force's website.

      The task force was convened in April. Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is leading the group. He's working with Adam Olsen, Green party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, and Ronna-Rae Leonard, NDP MLA for Courtenay-Comox.

      The trio has been asked to consult with landlords, tenants, and stakeholders, to come up with suggestions for how to “improve security and fairness” for those parties while also “addressing the challenges of affordability”.

      In addition, the task force will review how existing laws apply to different forms of housing and look at other jurisdictions with an eye out for “innovative approaches”.

      Chandra Herbert was quoted in an April media release emphasizing how many B.C. citizens are affected by the issues that task force has been asked to review.

      "One-and-a-half million British Columbians rent,” he said. “For too long, issues of security, affordability and fairness have been ignored, with the voices of renters and landlords sidelined. We need to bring renters, landlords and all those who care about rental housing to the table to improve our tenancy laws so they work better for everyone. It's time."

      Metro Vancouver' vacancy rate for purpose-built rentals has remained around just one percent for several years now.

      On May 29, the Straight reported that the Vancouver Tenants Union (VTU) had issued a list of 50 recommendations it hopes the Rental Housing Task Force will take into account as it reviews tenancy laws and regulations in B.C.

      "The Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) has not been updated since the early 2000s, and does not reflect the reality of the housing market," reads a May 28 VTU media release. "Housing market conditions have over time shifted more powers from tenants to landlords within a relationship which at its very foundation is one of unequal bargaining power."

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