UBCM to review student housing

Campus housing among a host of issues raised by Saanich for convention

Saanich Coun. Fred Haynes was among the busiest members at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference this week, with a stake in a series of Saanich-led resolutions.

The conference opened Monday at the Victoria Conference Centre and wraps up Friday.

The coup for Haynes was getting a late resolution on finding ways to create more student housing. It was officially accepted by the start of the conference on Monday and scheduled for debate sometime Friday morning.

“It’s a very positive thing as it’s the first time UBCM has had this as a resolution and it raises the profile of the student housing issue and shows students across B.C. we are listening to their concerns,”  Haynes said.

On Wednesday, Haynes met with staff from the Education and Finance ministries and learned there may be other “mechanisms” that could apply to some of the $500 million committed last week.

Initially, Haynes was leading a locally supported policy proposition to remove the barriers that are stopping post-secondary institutions from building student housing. Additional student housing would provide relief to the rental housing crunch in Saanich and Greater Victoria without costing the taxpayer, Haynes said.

“There may be another option instead of changing the way that the province sees its debt [which is considered the biggest barrier from universities].”

Among the most anticipated resolutions this week was to forward yet another endorsement to the federal government to create an abandoned and derelict vessel program, including an “end of life” vessel disposal program.

Coun. Judy Brownoff was behind the derelict vessel resolution following a frustrating and expensive 2015-16 storm season where Saanich was left to pay for the demolition and removal of multiple boats that washed up on Cadboro Bay beach. Of course, it’s only the latest of the ongoing resolutions calling for a solution to the issue of abandoned and derelict vessels that dates back to 2005, and was endorsed at UBCM in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2010.

Saanich was also in support of a CRD resolution to reduce the impacts on housing affordability by reducing the property transfer tax on new and existing homes, and a Saanich resolution to (yet again) seek a third-party review of building codes on two-storey, under 2,000 square feet, homes.

Saanich also helped bring back the request to create home renovation tax credit programs to encourage renovations that focus on energy efficiency, improved mobility and aging in place projects over $1,000.