Creating affordable housing continues to be a challenge in Central Saanich, particularly when it comes to funding. Central Saanich has approximately $37,000 in an affordable housing fund, according to Chief Financial Officer Paul Murray.
In an email, Murray wrote that the $37,000 had “accumulated over the last two or three years and [it is] not assessed by Council to make a contribution toward a local affordable housing development.”
The local affordable housing fund is in addition to an approximately $50,000 yearly contribution made by Central Saanich residents towards a CRD Regional Housing Trust Fund. The number is based on a cost-sharing formula based on population.
The CRD contributes up to $1 million annually towards affordable housing throughout the region.
Councillor Niall Paltiel acknowledges that if taken alone, the $37,000 figure “sounds quite trivial,” but that there is “absolutely a plan to grow that fund.”
Paltiel said that a recent council decision to set a contribution target of $5,500 for amenities and $2,000 towards affordable housing would help increase the value of the fund and provide consistency for the development community.
Both Paltiel and Mayor Ryan Windsor said that it would be up to council to decide how to use the fund, which could include buying land for affordable housing or contribute towards a society that builds such homes. In some instances, Paltiel said that it is not practical to actually build affordable units on particularly expensive tracts of land, so contributing to the fund would make more sense.
As an example, Jordan Mann of Marigold Lands said that to conform with Central Saanich’s Official Community Plan, purpose-built rentals would be built in Phase 2 of Marigold Lands. The final number is still up for discussion, but the current plan is to have approximately 120 units in 3 buildings, ten per cent of which would be considered affordable (which in part means the resident should not pay more than 30 per cent of their yearly income towards rent).
Marigold Lands is designed to include a mix of incomes and lifestyles, said Mann, which Paltiel agreed with.
“I don’t think it makes sense to have every development have all subsidized housing or no subsidized housing,” said Paltiel. “I think it is a mix.”