Report on Vancouver Sun’s panel: The Affordability Puzzle: Who has the Answers? (Featuring David Eby, Bob Rennie, Joy MacPhail, Bernd Christmas, 21-Jun-2022)

Above: Screenshot of Vancouver Sun’s panel on June 21, 2022 (left to right: moderator Stuart McNish, B.C. Housing Minister David Eby, Bernd Christmas, Joy MacPhail, Bob Rennie)

We previously announced a panel discussion sponsored by the Vancouver Sun and major developers on June 21, see “‘The Affordability Puzzle: Who has the Answers?’ Indeed!

The video of the event is now available on the Vancouver Sun website:

Below is a report of the event, by Upper Kitsilano Residents Association. Time and resources permitting, CityHallWatch would like to organize a panel with a more balanced composition. Send inquiries/ideas to us at


 “The Affordability Puzzle: Who has the Answers?” Not this Panel

UKRA watched a recent Vancouver real estate panel discussion called “The Affordability Puzzle: Who has the Answers?” It was hard to watch. We objected to the uniform one-sidedness of the panel, which included NDP Housing Minister David Eby, Joy MacPhail, Chair of an expert panel on housing supply and affordability, local development nabob and real estate marketer Bob Rennie, and Bernd Christmas, President of the Nch’ḵay̓ Development Corp. for the Squamish Nation.

We wrote to Harold Munro, the editor of the Vancouver Sun and host of the June 21 virtual meeting, with our objections to the pro-development love-in, but received no response. So much for our largest newspaper attempting to cover more than one side to the housing crisis story. Read this story by CityHallWatch for some solid insight into the panel.

In the hour or so that panelists spoke, we witnessed them being overly chummy, dismissive of those who disagree with them, and unprofessional. Eby, for instance, referred to Vancouver city councillors as “volunteers.”

“Many council members are just on this side of volunteering,” said Eby. “They go around the table saying ‘well, maybe we should take five floors off…and what colour is that shed going to be,’ and before you know it, eight years have passed.” Eby emphasized his recurring threat that “if we [Eby and municipal councils] can’t arrive at an agreement [to dramatically increase housing density] we [Eby as Minister of Housing] will have to step in.”

Eby has leveled threats at municipalities before, such as a plan to invoke Bill 16, which would allow the Province to expropriate private property near subway stations. There are different ways the Province can force municipalities to build more housing, he said, either by overriding municipal councils and building on provincially owned land, (in Maple Ridge, where there are 2,000 supportive units being built, for example), or by allowing the Minister of Municipal Affairs to reject a building project approved by a municipality if it does not provide enough density for the community. This has never been done before.

MacPhail said the affordability crisis must be solved to save our community. “Our communities will literally die, with a bunch of empty houses left, and old people…” she said, turning to Bob Rennie, “like Bob,” she continued, giggling and putting her arm on the condo king’s shoulder, “living in nice housing.”

She used the term “NIMBYism” several times when referring to why municipalities are slow to pass housing. Then she gave the example of a development in Surrey that will provide housing for more than 100,000 people. “NIMBYism will simply not flourish because the whole community approved the plan, not just neighbourhood by neighbourhood.”

Bob Rennie talked of ways to incentivize housing by involving the Federal and Provincial governments to offer municipalities money to build rental units. But the only real solution to the problem of affordability, he said, is by the province mandating it. Rennie says he is disturbed that neighbours can stop housing from going ahead. It’s such a shame, he said, “when you see six storeys turned down for real social good because of nine neighbours who were vocal. If you go to Dunbar,” he continued, they get mad at four storeys.” Rennie said building more housing is the only way forward but said the minister can’t do (mandate) anything before October 15 or it will become “too politicized” before the election. MacPhail said that housing should be an election issue, but Rennie cautioned her, saying that “some people will attach themselves to that, and others, like Colleen Hardwick, will disassociate from it,” — “and lose, I hope, said MacPhail, finishing Rennie’s sentence (followed by laughter from the crowd). And then Rennie added: “We should back her a bit so she won’t be a Councillor anymore.”


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