Months after Saanich disbanded a homeless camp in the core of the community, municipal efforts to bring modular housing to the area remain unfulfilled.
Kelsie McLeod, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, confirmed that the municipality has not had any formal discussions with BC Housing since October, when it said thanks but no thanks to a piece of Saanich-owned land for modular housing.
Saanich officially announced its offer in September, one week after Saanich Police forced the closure of a homeless camp in Regina Park that housed more than 100 people at its height in symbolizing the homeless crisis gripping the region.
“We are hopeful that by providing this land, we’re moving in the right direction to secure housing and satisfy some of the need for housing in this region,” then-mayor Richard Atwell said at the time.
A month later, just days before the municipal election that elected the current council, the provincial government rejected Saanich’s land offer after deeming it unsuitable.
Municipal and provincial officials have not had any formal discussions since then.
“Yes, the last official meeting with B.C Housing was held in October ,” said McLeod. “However, it’s very important to note that subsequent meetings with [BC Housing] are not required for Saanich to review potential land options for modular housing within our borders. This is underway — in addition to supporting regional housing initiatives — and we look forward to sharing more when we have additional information.”
McLeod said Saanich remains open to housing options and potential projects with provincial partners, adding it will continue to review landholdings for parcels that could be appropriate for such projects.
Questions about the number of Saanich-owned properties under review, past and present, did not receive an answer. It is also not clear whether any others actors — be they of a private or non-profit nature — have any part in this process.
Saanich’s discussion with the province took place within the context of the province’s Rapid Response to Homelessness initiative to house 2,000 people at a cost of $291 million. The province has since announced additional funding for 200 more units at an additional cost of $76 million.
It is not clear yet whether any of these additional units will come to Saanich.
“The announcement has just been made and we will assess options,” said McLeod. “However, it’s still too early to provide any details at this stage.”