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

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

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

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read