Rendering of the permanent modular 46-unit supportive housing project slated for the old Traders Inn site in Chilliwack. Saanich is in negotiations for help with supportive housing here. (BC Housing) This rendering shows a permanent modular 46-unit supportive housing project slated for Chilliwack. Saanich has recently received an offer of help from B.C. Housing for modular housing to help residents currently camping in Regina Park. (BC Housing)

B.C. Housing offers help for Saanich supportive housing

Saanich has received an offer of provincial help to create modular housing for the individuals living in the tent city in Regina Park near Uptown.

This offer (whose value currently lacks a precise dollar figure) comes under the framework of the Rapid Response to Homelessness program, a program of $291 million over two years to build 2,000 modular supportive housing units.

“The [ministry] and [B.C. Housing] recognize the growing impact of homelessness in the region and around the entire province, and reached out to the District of Saanich to offer our assistance through new supportive housing funds such as our Rapid Response to Homelessness program,” said Melanie Kirkpatrick, a public affairs officer, with the ministry, when asked about the offer.

It is not clear yet at this stage how Saanich will respond to it, with Saanich remaining coy.

”All I can share at this time is that discussions with [B.C. Housing] in regards to supportive housing are ongoing,” said Megan Catalano, a Saanich spokesperson.

According to background information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the province approached Saanich on June 28, expressing interest in working with Saanich to create housing for the people at the Regina Park camp. It popped up in May and currently houses 75 individuals.

B.C. Housing, according to the background information, is now waiting for a follow-up meeting with Saanich, “after which it is anticipated that there will be a more fulsome response to this [offer].”

Such a meeting would presumably address key issues such as the scope and location of any future modular housing, on the assumption that Saanich will join — albeit out of immediate need — a small but growing number of participating municipalities.

Saanich’s reluctance to discuss the provincial offer is understandable, against the backdrop of controversies in other communities that have been working with province on bringing modular housing to their respective communities.

Both Vancouver and Richmond have faced considerable push-back from residents fearful about the potential effects of living near populations dealing with various vulnerabilities. Residents in those communities have expressed the fear that modular housing might attract not only other homeless individuals, but also criminals.

As the date of the municipal election on Oct. 20 approaches, the question of where Saanich might place any future modular housing project could easily become a wedge issue. Of course, this assumes that Saanich can or has already found a suitable piece of property, no small feat by any measure.

Under the modular housing program, municipalities contribute land on which the modular housing would appear. While municipalities typically own this land, provincial officials have said this not a strict requirement of the program.

Saanich, in other course, could lease land. This would likely increase the range of available options, and recent comments from Coun. Colin Plant have intensified speculations about a vacant lot on Tolmie Avenue.

Once participating communities have identified suitable land, it may take any amount of time for the actual units to appear.

Factors that impact build time include the availability of a site, its zoning, and whether it requires any improvements among other factors, according to the provided background information. Once construction begins, it roughly takes eight to 10 weeks to complete the work.

Saanich, if it participates, could make additional contributions to the project by waiving development cost charges, building and development permit fees, and taxes.

While not a requirement, but most municipalities participating in the modular program have provided these waivers, according to the province.

The province, meanwhile, would cover capital and operating costs for the housing units.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Researchers say ‘text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millenials’ skulls

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

Mix of sun and cloud in Monday’s forecast

Plus a look ahead at your week

UVic microbiology student chosen for 2019 Amgen Scholars Canada Program

Dushanthi Dissanayake and 14 other Canadian students head to Toronto for mentorship, research

Esquimalt hosts many highlights for everyone

Some of the Esquimalt’s newest additions and classic favourites for Township visitors to see

Peninsula literary aims to create book worms with open air library

Open a book in the open air on selected Tuesdays this summer

WATCH: Thousands gather for National Indigenous Peoples Day at Royal Roads University

Day to embrace and celebrate culture and lives of Indigenous peoples

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read