Guest View: Time to get serious on affordable housing

Coun. Fred Haynes discusses his affordable housing push inside municipal hall and at higher levels of government

Whether it’s action on climate change, the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or the right to a healthy environment, Saanich Council has a track record of raising its voice to other levels of government on behalf of concerns expressed by its residents. Now, I believe it’s time we raise our collective voice on the issue of affordable housing, which is of critical and growing concern to our residents, the region and across the province and country.

Within Saanich, the lack of affordable housing is a pressing issue and one where actions by our Council and staff can have a positive impact. Municipalities are on the front line of working to deliver affordable housing for their residents.

So how do we create real change? I believe there are four routes available to work on affordable homes. First, within Saanich we can address administrative elements that reduce affordability at municipal hall. Second, by raising our municipal voice to the provincial and federal levels of government, we can help identify problem areas they can and need to address. Third, in working effectively with our development community, we can become stronger partners in building housing stock across Saanich. Fourth, by having two-way conversations with our residents on the affordability impacts we can control – building density, height, amenities, energy efficiency, transportation modes, etc. – we’re demonstrating that we are all in this together, and together we need to explore solutions.

On Monday (June 15), I brought forward two reports for Council to consider.  One requests our provincial and federal counterparts create new tax credit programs to incentivize residents undertake home renovations. The second one requests the higher levels of government conduct a review by appropriate, independent third parties of National Building Codes for larger buildings that are being “downloaded” to smaller, two-storey homes under 2,000 sq. ft. This could be contributing negatively to housing affordability by driving up the price of affordable housing builds.

On June 22, I’m working to bring forward a report which urges the provincial government to reduce the negative impacts on home affordability caused by the Provincial Property Transfer Tax. The second report will support the recent recommendations to the province by Isobel Mackenzie, the B.C. Seniors Advocate. Mackenzie suggests that the 80 per cent of seniors who own their own homes could access the equity in their homes for repairs and renovations through an affordable loan structure. Each of these reports, if approved by a majority on council, will be either sent as letters to the Federal or Provincial Governments and locals MP’s and MLA’s or forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to garner further support.

I think we can all agree that a fundamental element of creating and maintaining a healthy, inclusive and sustainable community is the provision of a range of housing types that accommodate people of different ages, incomes, family structures and physical needs. From workplace housing to downsizing options for seniors, I plan to bring forward a series of reports on affordable housing for our municipality, residents and our partners in the development community to consider. Please contact me or attend the June 22 council meeting for comment or to get involved.

Fred Haynes is a councillor with the District of Saanich.


Just Posted

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read