April 12: Saanich needs housing strategy

We are in the midst of a housing crisis and, unfortunately, Saanich has just passed a budget that does little to address this issue.

Saanich is a district without a shelter or proactive plan on housing access and affordability. It recently expanded the number of parks with overnight-shelter bans, and has failed to identify appropriate land with which to take advantage of government supportive housing programs. Meanwhile, Saanich remains one of the most expensive real-estate markets in Canada, and has an extremely low rental-vacancy rate. Despite these numerous challenges, the recent Saanich budget mentions affordable housing only once, and adds a meagre amount to the affordable housing fund.

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Saanich continues to rely on the official community plan to set its policy with respect to affordable housing, and this document is more than a decade old. While commendable efforts have been undertaken, such as adjustments to secondary-suite regulations and contributions to a small number of projects from the affordable-housing fund, this approach has been largely piecemeal.

We need a proactive approach to tackling the housing crisis, but without a plan, Saanich’s approach will continue to be fragmentary and ultimately inadequate. The City of Victoria has had a housing strategy since 2016, and though not perfect, this plan sets out deliberate approach to addressing the housing issue. It’s time that Saanich developed a comprehensive affordable housing strategy as well.

 

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Saanich

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