Pointed questions asked by Whistler housing consultant Tim Wake at the recent Mayor’s Breakfast should also be asked by municipal politicians on the Saanich Peninsula.
They might not like the answers and it might put paid to the notion that this area will ever be home to social housing or even the workforce housing for which local businesses have been lobbying. Wake, speaking to the various plans created in Sidney and North Saanich — more specifically in the latter community — wondered aloud whether all of that talking would ever result in a change in housing for the working people on the Peninsula.
Not likely, he answered, noting that North Saanich has at least two plans completed since 2008 that essentially say the same thing — there is little to no housing here in the price range of the average working family. And that means their paycheques end up where they actually live — elsewhere in Greater Victoria.
It’s also not likely to occur any time soon, he added. Current development projects in Sidney and North Saanich are market housing and their prices still outpace what would be affordable to people with average incomes.
Yet before anyone calls for social housing as the only options left, consider Wake’s other questions — “Where do you want those people to live and spend those dollars? Wouldn’t you want them to live here?”
Answers to these questions aren’t that easy to come by and at times local politicians have stated that one of their neighbouring communities might be the place for such housing.
Wake’s presentation has, in essence, pressed the restart button on housing on the Saanich Peninsula. His questions should give local politicians pause and force them to come clean on just what they want in their communities. For some, it’s market housing. For others, ‘affordable’ means ‘social’ housing. But unless they are willing to do more than pay into a Capital Regional District fund for social housing that will probably continue to build somewhere else, what we have left is simple posturing.
If housing really is a priority, we need to come up with some honest answers to these questions.