Student housing key to affordability crisis

The importance of the issue is highlighted by a pair of recent town hall meetings in Saanich

The issue of housing affordability is hitting close to home for many in Saanich and the surrounding areas throughout the Capital Region.

The importance of the issue is highlighted by a pair of town hall meetings that provincial politicians are bringing to their constituents in Saanich.

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham joined her NDP counterparts to discuss the housing affordability crisis this week at Reynolds secondary. Oak Bay – Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver takes aim at the issue during a town hall next week at Camosun’s Lansdowne campus. The B.C. Green Party leader will be joined by panelists bringing unique perspectives on different parts of the issue.

Saanich’s proximity to Victoria’s downtown business hub puts considerable strain on the community’s supply of housing. Combine that with a pair of major post-secondary institutions in the University of Victoria and Camosun College located within Saanich’s boundaries, and the problem is only compounded. UVic had more than 16,000 full-time students in 2014 and less than 2,500 residence spaces, leaving nearly 3,000 on a wait list for housing.

“Getting students on campus and out of the rental market helps everyone, including the single parent struggling to find housing, the minimum wage worker who can’t find rental they can afford, and those who are currently in housing, but spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent,” said Alex McGowan, chair of the B.C. Association of Students, who will be speaking at Tuesday’s town hall at Camosun.

Saanich council brought a motion to find solutions to the student housing crisis to the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, where it received overwhelming support. That motion was greeted by calls of support from the UVic Students’ Society as well as other student groups across the province.

It seems that politicians of all stripes and from all levels of government are in support of more student housing. We can only hope that’s enough to finally see progress on the issue.