Council will debate a notice of motion designed to increase the supply of affordable housing

Saanich councillor calls for dedicated affordable housing

A Saanich councillor wants to see a greater regional effort to improve the local supply of affordable housing.

Coun. Susan Brice has called on the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) to work with Saanich to create dedicated units of affordable housing as developers come forward with new market housing. CRHC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Capital Regional District (CRD), develops and manages 1,286 housing units in 45 buildings across the region.

Council will debate the issue during its upcoming council meeting after Brice filed a notice of motion.

For years, Saanich staff, council and developers have discussed the prospect of including affordable, CRD-managed housing into new new multifamily developments as they come forward, it read.

“Unfortunately, the discussion usually ends with the developer making a financial contribution in lieu to the Saanich Affordable Housing Fund,” Brice said in her motion.

While these funds have helped support worthwhile projects, they are not as effective as getting dedicated units at the time of application, she said.

Complex discussions between the CRD and developers, unanswered questions about the number of units that the CRD would administer, and the process, have historically frustrated this option of increasing the housing affordable housing supply, said Brice.

Brice’s notice of motion seeks to remedy this situation by asking Saanich staff to contact and request from the CRHC a “clear process that will allow [staff] to suggest the dedication of affordable housing as a viable alternative to developers.” Future information from the CRHC to developers should include “the minimum number of units for possible consideration, a straightforward application process, ongoing administration process and key contact information for the CRD Housing [personnel].”

Brice’s request echoes the concerns of community leaders and council colleagues such as Coun. Colin Plant, who have previously expressed support for dedicated affordable housing units.