A new report outlining Saanich’s current and future housing needs confirms that the market isn’t accessible to most residents and that the current housing supply doesn’t meet the diverse needs of the community.
On Nov. 16, Saanich council received the 2020 Housing Needs Report which provides a summary of the district’s housing market and the anticipated future needs of the municipality.
Mayor Fred Haynes explained that the provincially mandated report was completed per regulations introduced to the Local Government Act in 2019 which require municipalities to complete a housing needs assessment by 2022 and provide updates every five years after.
To meet the requirement, Saanich joined forces with 10 other municipalities in the Capital Regional District to compile individual reports and a regional assessment.
Tonight #Saanich council received the housing needs report for information.— Zac de Vries - Saanich Councillor (@zacdevries) November 17, 2020
I have to say that no report has ever made me more sad.
The report confirms what we already know; we are in a housing crisis.
Now we must act!
The Housing Strategy can’t come soon enough... pic.twitter.com/0wQ4ZrM0Pa
Using data from the 2016 census, Statistics Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, BC Stats and other sources, the Saanich Housing Needs Report identifies information about the current and anticipated population and the number of households, average incomes, home values and the projected housing needs for the next five years.
The 70-page document highlights the increasing difficulty of finding rental and market housing in Saanich, and the need for more accessibility and affordability, Haynes said. It also acknowledges that most of the housing stock is old – built post-war – and doesn’t meet current residents’ lifestyles.
According to the Victoria Real Estate Board’s 2019 data, the average price for a single-family, detached home in Saanich was $930,220. The Saanich report explains that, despite a trend towards multi-family housing, single-family homes make up most of the housing stock but are unaffordable based on the median income.
The report concluded that the district is in need of more rental housing, affordable homes and residences to accommodate seniors wanting to downsize, families with kids, people with disabilities, a growing student population and unhoused individuals.
It appears that single-family homes are affordable to almost no-one in #Saanich (except high-income earners). Yet they are the dominant housing type & our zoning rules restrict a large majority of our land-base to them.— Rebecca Mersereau (@RJMersereau) November 16, 2020
This begs the Q: who are we planning our community for? https://t.co/Lx6h68TPrf pic.twitter.com/MB6oTnhGGR
Per the report, if population growth continues on the current trajectory, the district will gain some 3,000 households by 2025 – nearly half are expected to be renters. Saanich will need about 600 new housing units every year over the next five years to accommodate current and future residents, Haynes explained.
This is why the work of Saanich’s Housing Strategy task force is critical, he said. The group has been meeting since September to develop a plan to address the “crisis of affordability” with a district-wide approach.
“I have to say that no report has ever made me more sad,” wrote Coun. Zac de Vries, chair of the task force, in a Twitter post following the council meeting. “The report confirms what we already know: we are in a housing crisis. Now we must act.”
Haynes said the report will guide the task force and inform future housing solutions at the provincial and municipal levels.