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LETTER: Increasing supply isn’t enough to solve housing crisis


Recently, a development consultant wrote in reply to my letter titled: “Saanich shouldn’t be providing discounts to developers”; that profit margins on construction projects aren’t as high as the public might think. So, his rationalization follows, that discounts from the municipality on community amenity contributions, developer cost charges, etc. would lead to more affordable housing.

I consider this to be a non-sequitur in general. Never mind that the taxpaying public will be left with the added bills for decades to come, in order to pay for all the added infrastructure that will be required for all the new buildings and that the municipality will be left with considerably less revenue from those that benefit financially from the process. To mitigate that situation is the purpose of such charges; to retain some value being added from land-lift.

The big profits to be made are not in the actual constructions, but in speculation on increased density, potential up-zoning, resulting land-lift and resulting gentrification, particularly along transportation corridors; something myself and more recently professor Patrick Condon pointed out on a Zoom meeting through the Camosun Community Association.

It will be no surprise then that according to the Provincial Lobbyist Registrar: the UDI has lobbied the provincial government extensively on densifying so-called transportation corridors.

Turning windfall profits from speculation along transport corridors is nothing new. Historical examples of this include Tammany Hall in New York and the railroad barons of the 19th century.

If increasing supply will lead to affordable housing and thus solve a crisis, as the consultant has suggested; then show us your homework. How much added supply, what type of supply, and on what timeline will it take to do that? No math has so far been provided.

If that simple formula worked; then New York City, Toronto and Vancouver would have housing that is affordable. We all know that didn’t happen, so who benefited from all that construction? I think you can guess.

Saanich shouldn’t be made into the next expensive megalopolis, so that speculators can benefit from the repetition of history.

Sasha Izard