Define affordable housing in Central Saanich

The phrase “affordable housing” has been used time and time again on our Peninsula without a concrete definition

The phrase “affordable housing” has been used time and time again on our Peninsula without a concrete definition.

Some experienced members of the Central Saanich Advisory Commission have remarked they have seen projects coming forward in the municipality that wish to reduce the minimum lot size in the OCP for a single freehold home in the name of affordable housing.

Without a definition, every small-lot project that comes through the municipality requires augmentation of the OCP.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and my economics textbooks define affordable housing as shelter that does not exceed 30 per cent of household income.

Due to the high costs of real estate per square foot on the Peninsula and the moderate income of most residents, secondary suites (in small lot homes) may be a solution.

Secondary suites would provide the homeowners additional resources to shoulder their mortgage payments while still affording other living expenses and would also provide affordable accommodation for a tenant.

In addition, perhaps the municipality should explore live-work development incentives or micro housing.

Roughly 12 years ago Central Saanich produced a housing needs assessment. The simple conclusion was that low income seniors and families struggle to find housing in Central Saanich.

With the emergence of many industrial employers, it may be time to re-assess the needs of skilled labourers who desire to build a family home close to where they work on the Peninsula.

Codifying a standard for affordable housing developments in our municipality is an effective way to make our community a better place to live.

Niall Paltiel

Central Saanich