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Metchosin staying rural, despite housing needs report: mayor

Mayor Ranns says living in a rural community offers benefits to seniors
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns says changes to the Residential Tenancy Act would free up housing in the community. (Courtesy District of Metchosin)

Despite Metchosin’s housing needs report highlighting issues with affordability and the availability of housing for renters and seniors, Mayor John Ranns says there’s no plan to build more housing.

The housing needs report, prepared by the Capital Regional District and presented to district council in February, highlighted a number of housing needs in the community, including an aging population and a lack of downsizing options for seniors.

The report highlighted census figures from 2006 and 2016 that showed the median age of Metchosin residents increased from 45.5 to 51.5. Residents aged 65 and over make up 22 per cent of the population, up from 12 per cent in 2006.

Ranns said the report makes recommendations based on the needs of an urban community, not a rural one like Metchosin is.

He added that the district tries to be flexible with allowing people to run businesses from within their homes, add secondary suites to their homes and have mobile homes on their property, which he said should help solve the issues of affordability, seniors looking to downsize and the lack of rental housing options in the community. But he said building new housing would be ineffective, especially seniors-focused housing, when Metchosin is far away from most services seniors need.

“There’s trade-offs on everything,” he said. “If you want to have agriculture, or if you want to have open spaces, if you want to have places that people can drive through and visit the farmers’ markets, you can’t have all these urban amenities.”

“Do we basically condemn this community into being another Langford, another Colwood — is that good for the region?” he added.

Ranns said that one way to free up more housing units would be to make changes to the Residential Tenancy Act.

“I know of a number of places in Metchosin that could rent a suite, but they don’t because of the Residential Tenancy Act,” he said. “Once you get somebody in, you can never get them out.”

He added that maintaining the rural community nature of Metchosin gives seniors opportunities they wouldn’t have in more urban communities.

“Our seniors have opportunities here that they don’t in other areas. That’s why they like to stay here,” he said. “We rely on our seniors here for a lot of different things.”

Ranns pointed to various organizations like the Pioneer and School museums and the arts and culture centre which are predominantly run by seniors in Metchosin. Ranns also noted that Metchosin was recognized in 2013 by the province as an age-friendly community.

READ MORE: Aging residents, more renters, unaffordability key points in Metchosin housing study


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