LETTER: Saanich needs an affordable housing strategy

LETTER: Saanich needs an affordable housing strategy

We are in the midst of a housing crisis unfortunately, and Saanich has thus far not done enough to address this issue.

READ ALSO: Saanich councillor says proposed housing forum asks the community for solutions

Saanich is a district without a shelter or proactive plan on housing access and affordability. It recently expanded the number of parks with overnight shelter bans and has failed to identify appropriate land with which to take advantage of government supportive housing programs.

Meanwhile, Saanich remains one of the most expensive real estate markets in Canada and has an extremely low rental vacancy rate.

READ ALSO: Saanich to revisit ‘discriminatory’ occupancy bylaw

Despite these numerous challenges, the recent Saanich budget only mentions affordable housing once and adds a meager amount to the affordable housing fund.

Saanich continues to rely on the Official Community Plan to set its policy with respect to affordable housing, and this document is over a decade old. While commendable efforts have been undertaken, such as adjustments to secondary suite regulations, contributions to a small number of projects from the affordable housing fund and a recent proposal to hold a housing forum, the approach appears largely piecemeal.

We need to be proactive in tackling the housing crisis, but without a plan, Saanich’s approach will continue to be fragmentary and ultimately inadequate.

The City of Victoria has had a housing strategy since 2016, and though not perfect, this plan sets out a deliberate approach to addressing the housing issue.

READ ALSO: Housing strategy aims to eliminate homelessness in Victoria

It’s time that Saanich developed a comprehensive affordable housing strategy as well.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Saanich