Saanich council is taking the first steps down a road that may finally bring some assistance to families struggling to find affordable accommodations in the community.
Coun. Fred Haynes brought forward a report calling for staff to look into the potential for permitting detached suites in the district.
“The lack of available suites presents a crisis for the families and individuals seeking housing opportunities in Saanich,” said Haynes. “The barriers are created by tight supply. Enabling detached suites can help. The need for rental housing requires us to act now.”
The issue is not a new one. Haynes’ proposal follows up on an October 2014 motion from Coun. Dean Murdock that called on staff to one day look into the legalization of secondary suites in accessory buildings in Saanich.
But with the vacancy rate in Greater Victoria’s rental market hovering around one per cent, the urgency has never been greater.
It’s hard to see how a small carriage home constructed at the back of a property will have a dramatic effect on the community’s neighbourhoods. The community has undergone similar changes without significant hue and outcry. Saanich legalized secondary suites south of McKenzie in 2010, and north of McKenzie in 2014. In that four-year span, 98 homeowners applied for a permit for a legal suite while 229 complaints were recorded.
Some estimates suggest there are already 9,000 secondary suites in Saanich. A detached building would be far more difficult to conceal than a suite in a home’s basement, so if anything, the changes would only help to shed light on the issue.
With the lack of affordable housing becoming a serious concern for communities across the province, efforts must be made at all levels to make it easier for families to find a place to call home. For families here in Saanich, an answer may finally be on the horizon.