Editorial: A challenge for candidates

Don Evans of Our Place is challenging the region’s mayoral candidates to get serious about fighting homelessness. Let’s see how many of them step up.

At a housing forum for candidates this week, Evans urged them to promise that if elected, they would each set aside a parcel of land in their municipality for 40 to 50 units of modular housing. If that happened in all 13 municipalities, he said, it would all but end homelessness.

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It hasn’t happened so far. Victoria has come up with a site for 21 units, and Saanich, with the tent city roaming through its territory, offered a spot north of the municipal fire station, but the province rejected it as unsuitable.

Help is available through the province, which is offering to build 2,000 units of modular housing across B.C. The capital region should claim more than 21 of those.

Of course, finding the land will take more than promises and good intentions. A major reason that housing is so expensive here is that land can be hard to come by. And not much of it is owned by municipalities.

Carving out a chunk of public land is one thing; buying up private land is another — and comes with a hefty price tag. Smaller municipalities such as View Royal would be hard pressed to find the space, and dropping modular houses into parks is a non-starter.

The region is making progress. The Capital Regional District committed $30 million for social housing, which the federal and provincial governments matched.

With an election a week away, candidates might be moved to take up Evans’s challenge.

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