EDITORIAL: Saanich closing door on housing options

Sooner or later, Saanich needs to decide if it wants to get serious about the housing crisis gripping the region.

Saanich council forwarded a two-lot subdivision on Helvetia Crescent to a public hearing Monday night. The two homes that will likely be constructed on Cordova Bay Ridge will have little impact on the future of the community, but the stipulation council attached to its approval could create ripples felt across Greater Victoria.

Council attached a covenant that prohibits secondary suites, despite zoning that would permit the option. While the covenant comes at the urging of the applicant himself to try and alleviate the concerns of neighbours, council needs to consider the needs of the community at large over any single development or neighbours who may favour or oppose it.

Coun. Colin Plant voiced objections to allowing areas within the community to have covenants against secondary suites.

“As a councillor, I am a little uncomfortable creating pockets, where we covenant individual houses that say ‘you can’t have secondary suites,’ because of the fact that we do want to encourage residents to have legal secondary suites,” said Plant, who noted there are numerous illegal suites on Cordova Bay Ridge.

“The land use should be the land use, not assuage neighbourhood concerns.”

Yes, secondary suites can bring some unwanted disruptions to a neighbourhood. However, with a vacancy rate hovering at one per cent, and reports surfacing of construction workers being forced to live in their cars due to the shortage of adequate housing, it’s clear to see that the housing crisis in Greater Victoria extends beyond any single development.

But until our elected representatives make a determined commitment to treat affordable housing as the crisis it is, the situation is only going to get worse. The first step in doing that is to recognize that providing shelter to its citizens should take priority over any minor disruptions they might bring.

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