Use vacant lots for temporary housing

Re: “Saanich tent city ignites anger — and pleas for compassion,” June 22.

Saanich council has struggled to present viable solutions to the housing crisis as evidenced by the growing tent city in Regina Park.

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Provincial funding is available, to the tune of $90 million, through a program that offers supportive, modular housing to municipalities that provide the land.

These homes offer a quick response while longer-term solutions to housing are developed. Other municipalities have jumped at the opportunity and within just a few months, people who were living on the streets were in stable homes. Saanich, on the other hand, has failed to identify municipal land that could serve this purpose.

Options are available, if council were willing to think outside of the box.

One approach could be to partner with private landowners whose land sits empty and has been empty for a long time.

Modular housing could be installed on these properties while planning for development continues. And there is plenty of land sitting vacant in Saanich.

Take, for example, the lot at 760 Tolmie Ave., a 13,670-square-metre-lot that has sat empty since 2006 when its owner demolished the bowling alley. This property could easily accommodate a modular-housing complex, along with a temporary urban farm, and more.

We are facing a housing crisis, not a housing inconvenience. The only way to begin to address this crisis is not to simply move people along, but to provide stable housing for them.

The time for innovative action is upon us. Will Saanich council step up?

Teale Phelps Bondaroff


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