LETTER: View Royal lacks transparency on affordable housing development

Many residents in View Royal are starting to question the way business is being conducted in our town, and in return, those who have shown civic concern have had their personal character attacked in public online forums by those in powerful positions.

READ ALSO: Not-for-profit rental apartments proposed for View Royal

The proposed development at West Park Lane (the former five-hectare Thetis Lake Campground across from the CRD parking lot at Thetis Lake Park) is a 152 affordable housing complex which consists of income assistance to near market units. The issue at hand is not affordable housing. The community has demonstrated at the Council meeting on May 21 that we support locating affordable housing on this property. However, what we do not support is entirely waiving $920,000 of the Development Cost Charges.

READ ALSO: View Royal residents debate affordable housing proposal in a packed council meeting

Transparency from town hall is crucial. The developer has shown no financial requirement for the basis of waiving their DCC fees. If there is a requirement for financial assistance, it should be easy to prove. Furthermore, a number of steps in the political process seem a bit unsettling, such as Screech receiving campaign contributions from the developer, a letter in support of the proposed development being accepted by Town Hall from a vacant lot (owned by developer in question), and the fact Screech sits as the vice-chair of the Capital Regional Housing Corporation (i.e. the future operators of the proposed affordable housing complex). Transparency in respect to this development is concerning View Royal residents.

READ ALSO: View Royal Mayor denounces councillors making ‘pointless’ opposition to affordable housing project

Affordability is also a major concern. If the idea of this development is to provide affordable living in the community, then why does View Royal raise property taxes by 5.2 per cent on the one hand while offering to subsidize almost $1 million for a multi-million-dollar corporation on the other hand? For a town of under 11,000 people, this is a lot of money to waive.

Taxation is often forgotten in the equation of affordability. Affordability for the future residents should also be taken into consideration. The location of the proposed development is challenging. The closest bus stop is at the bottom of a hill over 800 metres away with sidewalks only on one side of the road. The closest grocery store, clinic, or elementary school? That would be over two kilometres down Highway 1.

Those issues might be overlooked if the units were actually affordable. West Park Lane will be offering 2-bedroom units for $1790 a month. Colwood’s new Helios affordable housing development will be offering comparable 2-bedroom units at $1292 a month. That’s almost $500 cheaper and according to Rajvir Rao of BC Housing, Helios “is near community amenities, schools, retail areas and transit.” Affordable housing shouldn’t make the poor poorer and the rich richer. DCC fees help reduce the wealth gap.

READ ALSO: 82 new rental units available in Colwood

Taxation is often forgotten in the equation of affordability. Affordability for the future residents should also be taken into consideration. The location of the proposed development is challenging. The closest bus stop is at the bottom of a hill over 800 metres away with sidewalks only on one side of the road. The closest grocery store, clinic, or elementary school? That would be over two kilometres down Highway 1.

Finally, as of right now, View Royal lacks any policy on affordable housing. By pushing through the DCC waiver without concrete and identifiable policies, View Royal will inevitably create inequity amongst businesses and municipalities in the area. Multiple businesses have spoken up in opposition to waiving the developer’s DCC fees entirely by calling into question why their market-value projects didn’t receive such leniency when their higher-end units are rentable for below the proposed affordable housing’s rent schedule.

Moreover, a quick look around at the affordable housing policies in other municipalities in Greater Victoria reveals that without a housing reserve fund, a complete DCC fee write-off for developers is unprecedented. Regrettably, View Royal hasn’t created a housing reserve fund like many other municipalities have, otherwise we might be in another position.

Something in our municipal system is broken. Common civility and open debate have been compromised. Concerned residents engaging in the political process have been accused by the political and business elite in View Royal of being NIMBYs and worse.

Have a look online at our Facebook group (Chilco/Thetis Development Discussion) to decide for yourself. You’ll find a group of ordinary residents looking out for what’s best in their community, including those new residents in the proposed affordable housing complex.

We believe that transparency, affordability and policy considerations are required in View Royal before town hall considers waiving over $920k in DCCs which could have drastic impacts on future community improvements.

Stephen Oxley and Thea Wilson-Scorgie

View Royal

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds of wax figures find new life in Saanich man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Oak Bay wins Vancouver Island basketball championship

Third-place NDSS will get to challenge second place Claremont for a berth in provincials

Peninsula Eagles will host Midget T2 provincial championships

Provincial championships will take place at Panorama Recreation March 15 to 19

UPDATED: Hit and run results in damaged fire hydrant, flooding on Richmond Road

Registered owner issued $360 ticket, responsible for repair costs

Saanich’s senior race car driver not slowing down

Bill Okell kicks off 2020 season at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California on Feb. 21

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Most Read