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.
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