LETTER: Door closing on student renters in Saanich

It is encouraging to see that Saanich Council is willing to review the bedroom bylaw. Current building statistics demonstrate that Saanich has fallen behind and could receive a failing grade. Administration has done enough studying. It’s now time to pass the examination. Saanich’s economy is expected to grow due to expanded educational facilities along with our residents’ longevity. Also, Saanich has become a retirement destination.

RELATED: Saanich set to review residential occupancy rules

Unfortunately for students, the bedroom door is closing as there may be no room at the inn.

Saanich should be connecting with interested in-home landlords and age-in-place seniors who have empty bedrooms. Some will welcome an intelligent companion. With help from Saanich Police offering free background criminal checks, “a meet and greet” could pair students with interested homeowners. This could alleviate the problem now, generate accommodation and be in place by the next semester.

RELATED: UVic getting two new buildings for student housing

Compounding to the shortage of bedrooms are federal and provincial government policies promoting foreign student home-stays. There is nothing wrong with that, as education is a local business and helps build a stable tax base. Higher education can never be repossessed.

Senior government officials make a fortune while offering tax breaks and incentives for those landlords who offer bed and breakfast hospitality for non-resident students.

RELATED: Students caught up in rental crunch

A university mathematician could calculate the fact that a lack of available rooms, along with added competition for accommodation, increases the price of rents close to an educational facility.

A college philosopher would contemplate that brilliant young minds that are willing to borrow, invest in their education and build a better future for themselves should receive support.

Even amateur astronomers could predict a collision of opinions affecting a student’s universe when colliding with a hostile rental environment. Hopefully, council will achieve a collective zen moment by offering flexible bylaws to entice our scholars to remain in Saanich. The Saanich tax accountant should calculate the benefits to the economy, transit, local employers, businesses and carbon reduction targets.

Future Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawkings, Madame Curies and Albert Einsteins are out there. They just need a room and a quiet place to study.

Currently, outdated Saanich bylaws have created a shortage of bedrooms. The Saanich sign must not read, “Sorry, No Vacancy”.

Art Bickerton

Saanich

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