We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on affordable housing.
David Cubberley, mayoral candidate:
Seek opportunities to build more affordable housing by leveraging the regional housing trust fund; look at extending legalization of secondary suites after gauging the impact south of McKenzie; look at ways of stimulating new market rental accommodation, including pressing the federal government, via the FCM, to restore capital gains tax exemptions for market rental; and urging the federal and provincial governments to assume more responsibility for supplying affordable housing.
Frank Leonard, mayoral candidate:
Saanich now has over 2600 units of social housing and contributes $300,000 annually to the Regional Affordability Fund. During the past 3 years, Pacifica Housing and Cool Aid have opened transition housing for those who were homeless. Habitat for Humanity has completed one project and started another. We attracted and approved the Mount View Campus of Care on Carey Road – home to CRD affordable family housing, Baptist housing for seniors and a Baptist residential care facility. I am proud of our leadership on affordable housing and commit to continued successes like these, particularly with our rental housing strategy.
Susan Brice, council candidate:
Because land costs are such an important factor in affordability, we must look at innovative ways to maximize the precious land base within the urban containment boundary. This can be accomplished with sensitive in-filling, higher density, flex housing and an expansion of the secondary suites program. We must continue to work with partners in the CRD Housing Corporation and Affordable Housing Trust, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and any other private or public entities with our shared goal of safe housing for all. As we engage the local partners we must continue to make the case to senior government that they must return to and fund a multi-year housing strategy.
Judy Brownoff, council candidate:
Saanich needs to take a stronger position on engaging developers on the community benefits of redevelopment. The only way affordable housing can get better is if we use the tools and leveraging within our powers. Recently when door knocking I found a mom who was working and taking some courses but got sick, and her and her children were being evicted. I asked where they would be going, answer, friends at first. We need, as a region, to keep moving forward with partners and create more opportunities for affordable housing.
Vic Derman, council candidate:
Affordable housing will continue to be a concern. In a region so attractive, market forces will likely keep prices high. We have set up funds to assist with new projects and have begun to ask developers for dedicated units or reduced rents and prices on a portion of units. We will need to do more. The best solution will likely involve long range planning to make affordable housing a requirement in the new denser communities we create with urban re-development. I will continue to push for these sorts of planning initiatives.
Paul Gerrard, council candidate:
Land cost is the most difficult barrier to affordable housing in Saanich and the CRD. Saanich contributes to the CRD Housing Trust Fund, which leverages up to 15 to 1 from senior levels of government, and also receives DCC cost charges from development and for Saanich’s Housing Fund. I believe we need to lobby the provincial government to release some of the $1 billion they collect annually from the Property Transfer Tax to institute housing programs. Also, the federal government could amend the Capital Gains Tax to release dormant land for development, with tax relaxations for building affordable accommodation.
Ingrid Ip, council candidate:
I don’t think the concerns for affordable housing will ever leave us, but we must try taming the beast. A report released by the Bank of Montreal states that 15% of all baby boomers intend to retire in Victoria. Let it not be at the expense of ‘native Victorians’. We certainly don’t want to drive out our young people. We need to encourage applications for multi-tenant rental units. We also need to have affordable housing for the older population that’s wants to downsize but not get out of the housing market altogether. Affordable housing units within new development can help alleviate the situation and enrich the population mix.
Dean Murdock, council candidate:
We need to work with builders and regional partners to get a mix of housing options that are affordable for all levels of income. When families can afford to settle in our community, they invest in housing, send their kids to local schools, and buy local products and services. Our region’s future depends on affordability for families. Permitting secondary suites is another way to make housing more accessible for home-buyers and increase options for renters.
Vicki Sanders, council candidate:
Its important that we define “affordable” housing so that we are all on the same page. I definitely support more legal suites and high density housing close to areas of need such as the university.
Nichola Wade, council candidate:
Community liveability means that we have a broad range of residents, including all economic levels. There is strength in diversity. To develop affordable housing, senior levels of government, particularly the federal government, must be engaged. Affordability must encompass the full spectrum of housing choices-from shared accommodations, to rentals to home ownership.
Leif Wergeland, council candidate:
There are many different groups in our community in need of affordable housing. Those with addictions, mental disorders, handicaps, seniors, single mothers, working poor, etc. The cost to address the need is large; to ignore it the cost is even greater. Saanich has started to address the need: legalizing suites, lock off units in condos, housing trust funds, women’s transition complexes, new multi-care facility on Carey Road (my view site). What is needed is a national housing strategy partnering with all 3 levels of government partnering and creating predictable on going funding.
Rob Wickson, council candidate:
Almost all candidates for Saanich council agree affordable housing should be a priority, but none of them are discussing accessible housing. Those who need affordable housing benefit when it is built close to transit routes, close to major services, and designed to meet the unique needs of seniors and the disabled. Taking these needs into account is what affordable and accessible housing means to me. Another concern related to housing is, “How do we increase density without negatively impacting the historical value of our neighbourhoods?” Where appropriate and with consultation, we need to consider allowing secondary suites of all types—including garden suites.
Harald Wolf, council candidate:
I am concerned that “affordable housing” has become synonymous with “subsidised housing”. A significant contributor to the problem is that rental units are becoming all-too-rare in Saanich. By accepting mostly expensive condo developments and large-home pan-handling, council is only making the situation worse. Saanich needs to establish and then target a healthy housing mix, which the development community would need to heed. Illegal suites must all become legal and, more importantly, safe for their residents. Beyond that, there will always be a need for housing for those that slip between the cracks, and Saanich must integrate its share of that system.