Housing Services

Shakeup in BC Housings: New Board Appointments Signal Structural Changes

Late on a Friday evening, the province of British Columbia dropped a bombshell in the realm of affordable housing, announcing major changes to the structure of BC Housings. This unexpected move, spearheaded by Attorney General and Housing Minister David Eby, sent shockwaves through the community. The reshuffling of the BC Housing board, following an external review, introduces a cadre of new members who are set to implement transformative reforms in the organization.

The Board Reshuffle

In a statement released at 6:35 p.m. on a Friday night, Minister David Eby unveiled a new-look BC Housing board. The notable additions include Allan Seckel as the chair, accompanied by Jill Kot, Sheila Taylor, Mark Sieben, and Russ Jones. The decision to expedite the appointment of the new board, a week ahead of schedule, raised eyebrows and triggered speculation about the urgency surrounding these changes.

The Fresh Faces

Allan Seckel, a former Deputy Minister in the Office of the Premier and Deputy Attorney General under the BC Liberals, takes the helm as the new chair. Joining him are individuals with diverse backgrounds, including Jill Kot and Sheila Taylor, both former Deputy Ministers. Mark Sieben, currently a Deputy Minister in Premier Horgan’s office, and Russ Jones, a former acting Auditor General, complete the ensemble. Each member brings a wealth of experience, signaling a deliberate effort to infuse BC Housing with new perspectives.

The Context of Change

The June 30 announcement laid the groundwork for this transformation, revealing the outcomes of a year-long external review. This evaluation scrutinized BC Housing’s ability to manage its expanded budget and mandate, considering the provincial government’s substantial $ 7 billion investment in affordable housing over the next decade. The decision to shake up the board reflects the need for a dynamic response to the challenges identified in the Ernst & Young report.

Swift Implementation and Replacements

The surprising aspect of the announcement lies in the immediacy of the board’s implementation. The outgoing members, including the former chair Cassie Doyle, were replaced overnight. The abrupt departure of long-standing board members, appointed during the NDP government’s ascent to power in 2017, adds a layer of intrigue to the restructuring process. The departure of Doyle, who held the position since 2017, marks the end of an era.

External Evaluation Findings

The Ernst & Young report highlighted several areas where BC Housing could enhance its performance. It pointed out a siloed approach to delivery, limited investments in IT infrastructure, and undocumented project management practices. The report depicted a complex landscape marked by heightened homelessness, encampments, and the need to house mentally ill and addicted individuals amid a competitive job market.

Challenges and Opportunities

The budgetary growth of BC Housing, from $782 million in 2017-2018 to $1.9 billion in 2020-2021, underscored the organization’s expanding role. With commitments to inject $7 billion more over the next decade and an increased borrowing capacity, BC Housing faces both challenges and opportunities. The organization must navigate evolving demands while aligning its strategies with the recommendations outlined in the external review.

The restructuring of BC Housing’s board heralds a new chapter in the province’s approach to affordable housing. The infusion of fresh perspectives and the swift implementation of changes underscore a commitment to addressing the identified shortcomings. As British Columbia grapples with the complexities of housing in the face of a changing landscape, the transformed BC Housing Board signals an intent to adapt, innovate, and usher in an era of more effective and responsive housing solutions. The journey towards a reimagined BC Housing has begun, with the promise of a more resilient and impactful future.

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