Central Saanich plans to review current housing and land use policies after receiving a new housing report that found in the words of Coun. Niall Paltiel “significant” gaps. But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make a difference. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich plans to review current housing and land use policies after receiving a new housing report that found in the words of Coun. Niall Paltiel “significant” gaps. But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make a difference. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich plans to review housing policies and practices

But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make any difference

Central Saanich will review housing and land use planning practices on the basis of a new housing report that has found gaps. But the public also heard from a councillor who questioned whether the municipality can actually do something about the issue of housing.

Councillors tasked staff to prepare a report reviewing current housing and land use policies, as well as best practices from other jurisdictions to identify policies assisting in the creation of both rental and home ownership after accepting a housing assessment report prepared by Urban Systems.

Coun. Niall Paltiel said the report with its important information presents Central Saanich with options: let it sit on the shelf or take specific actions. The report shows some “significant” gaps in rental, senior and workforce housing, he said. “And there may be areas where we can do something to address those gaps,” he said. Paltiel acknowledged that staff currently confront a heavy workload. But if he did not put a fixed deadline on the report, he pointed out that the report includes some information that may affect ongoing policy reviews and future zoning updates.

RELATED: New housing report says Central Saanich families find it increasingly difficult to find housing

The report required by the provincial government assesses the state of housing in the community. It finds Central Saanich’s vacancy rate was at 0.6 per cent in 2019, below the range of three to five per cent considered healthy by experts. It also makes a case for more rental housing as well as more housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Coun. Chris Graham, who voted against the motion to prepare the follow-up report, did not challenge the findings of the housing assessment per se, but questioned its framing and the larger premise that the municipality can actually do something about housing.

During his comments, he focused on the claim that a healthy vacancy rate ranges between three and five per cent. He acknowledged that a low vacancy rate has the potential to give landlords undue power over renters. “But from my recollection, in the last couple of decades, I don’t recall a situation in the (Capital Regional District) where vacancies have been over one per cent.”

While Graham acknowledged a vacancy rate between three and five per cent as sign of a “healthy market,” he questioned whether it is achievable. “I don’t know why it is relevant, because I don’t think we will ever achieve something close to that.”

Consultant Marina Jozipovic responded by saying “that’s a great point.”

Graham, who described the report as “really fascinating” in breaking down the housing market and its trendlines, then questioned whether the municipality can actually increase the local supply of housing, against the backdrop of some 7,000 existing units. “Anything we do is going to have a minimal effect on the actual average cost of those units,” he said.

Affordable housing, he said, had traditionally meant “older” and “run-down” housing. “Of course, we are now looking at ways to build new construction affordable housing, which completely runs in the face of those economic models.”

Graham later voted with his colleagues in favour of forwarding the report to the ongoing review of the Official Community Plan in a separate motion.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke Christmas Bureau, which serves over 400 hampers to families and residents in need, has extended their deadline to include anyone in need that has missed their Dec. 1 cutoff. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke Christmas Bureau extends deadline for hampers

Non-profit group says monetary donations goes further than non-perishables

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Gone cold: Fate of View Royal teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus in View Royal in December 1973

Andrew McBride is among those who deck out for Sea of Lights floating ship parade annually. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic sinks Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s Sea of Lights

Oak Bay club encourages donations to the charities event supports

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

A Saanich crash has left many residences in the area without power Thursday morning. (Google Maps)
Early morning crash causes Saanich power outage

Power expected to be restored by 9:30 a.m.

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former Island mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex in Chemainus

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Most Read