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

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

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

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read