Victoria councillors thumb nose at costly housing study

Housing strategy needs action, not study: city council

When presented with an 18-month, $155,000 plan to assess the City of Victoria’s housing needs, city council balked at the numbers involved.

“I have a great deal of trouble spending staff time and resources …  on a problem that we know exists and has been well-documented,” said Coun. Lisa Helps, who likened the proposal to a well-crafted doctorate thesis.

“The city’s not in the business of doing Ph.Ds.”

Last Thursday, sustainability department staff pitched need for the study as part of the city’s housing strategy to the governance-and-priorities committee.

“Most of our efforts over the last four or five years have focused mostly on emergency and transitional housing,” said John Reilly, Victoria’s senior planner of sustainability. “We need to broaden it.”

That means also strategizing around affordable market rental housing and home ownership – the full spectrum of housing, he said.

“There have been many innovations in municipal housing developments across the country. We need to learn from this.”

Faced with limited resources, Reilly said, the city needs to ensure its investment in housing is most effective.

“Does another 710 Queens Avenue makes sense?” he asked, referring to the former Traveller’s Inn motel the city purchased to provide supportive housing for the hard to house.

However, many on council echoed Helps’ concerns and called for a faster, cheaper approach that doesn’t “reinvent the wheel.”

rholmen@vicnews.com