Victoria rally gets heated as protesters try to force their way into housing meeting
Feds committed $2.3 billion for housing in the 2016 budget, including a $150 million investment in B.C.
A protest rally in Victoria got heated as dozens of protesters tried to force their way into a meeting with housing ministers from across the country.
About 30 housing advocates shouting "Christy's cuts are class war!" tried to push past police officers and staff at the Grand Pacific Hotel.
They're demanding the federal government spend more than $10 billion annually to build 77,000 housing units per year in Canada.
Hotel staff and police pushing back as protestors try to storm into hotel. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcpoli?src=hash">#bcpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/d7yKpoHov2">pic.twitter.com/d7yKpoHov2</a>—@richardzussman
"The message we're getting from the government is that they're interested in posturing around housing but not willing to take people off the street," said Ivan Drury with the Alliance Against Displacement, who led the group's attempt to bust into the hotel.
Housing advocates trying to get into Housing Ministers meeting in Victoria. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcpoli?src=hash">#bcpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/KlLRdV2TpB">pic.twitter.com/KlLRdV2TpB</a>—@richardzussman
Before the rally, Drury and his fellow advocates got a surprise visit from Federal Housing Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, who stepped out of the hotel to met with the group.
"We are working across the housing spectrum, which goes from homelessness to market housing, and we have a huge interest in social housing," Duclos said to the group.
National Housing Minister Yves Duclos is telling protesters in Victoria "he is here to help." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/KrOQHn0sOV">pic.twitter.com/KrOQHn0sOV</a>—@richardzussman
In the 2016 budget, the federal government pledged $2.3 billion for affordable housing including a $150-million investment announced last Sunday, focused on B.C.
Inside the hotel, B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman was also calling on the federal government for help with the province's housing crisis.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/colemancountry">@colemancountry</a> says they will now work on consultation for a national housing strategy. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcpoli?src=hash">#bcpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/bNRGICwxcB">pic.twitter.com/bNRGICwxcB</a>—@richardzussman
Canada's Housing Ministers met in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyj?src=hash">#yyj</a> today. Ottawa has a major role to play as we address housing affordability.—@christyclarkbc
But he said provincial housing ministers "have turned a page" on a national housing strategy and saw more support from the federal government to build housing.
Duclos said the government is trying to address a wide range of housing problems, from $1 million homes to social housing.
He said he and his provincial and territorial counterparts are working toward the country's first national housing strategy in four decades.
"No one government can address those housing needs alone," he said. "Today is a demonstration that we are there to listen and address the housing needs that Canadians have frankly expressed over the last few months and last few years."
With files from The Canadian Press