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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Alternative Housing Options

    Editorial & Opinions, Election Candidates    October 14, 2018

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on alternative housing options.

Question: What would you do to bring the current Land Use Bylaws in line with the OCP’s support for alternative housing options to allow innovative projects that support our most vulnerable community members and farmers (i.e. tiny homes, mental health housing, land sharing, cooperative housing?)

Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee):

Any bylaws that are not in line with the OCP are capable of amendment. I would encourage broad community consultation prior to amendment.

I would particularly look at the bylaws affecting secondary suites to see how affordable, safe and ecologically harmonious living situations can be achieved. I would support the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Authority (SSIWPA) working with the North Salt Spring Waterworks District to find solutions to water quantity issues in relation to secondary suites (Bylaw 471)

Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee):

This question is tricky we must look at water use and sewage first to make sure that these two systems will cope

Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee):

This is a job for professional planners. Development proposals for affordable and/or alternative housing which are supported by the OCP have received ready support from the current LTC and, I would expect, from the next one. Land Use Bylaws can and have been changed to meet those proposals. With the OCP review which I hope will be implemented next term, will come an LUB update.

Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director):

The Official Community Plan (OC) and Land Use Bylaw (LUB) are under the jurisdiction of the Islands Trust, although CRD Director can advocate for changes. Our current OCP, which is likely to be reviewed in the next 4 year term, is already very progressive with regard to policies supporting affordable housing projects and innovative tenure arrangements. In my experience as a community activist and CRD Director, the Trust has always been very supportive of such projects, but only with safeguards, terms and conditions (e.g., housing agreements) to ensure that promised community benefits of proposed housing and land tenure changes are actually provided and guaranteed in perpetuity. Making such changes “pro-actively” (i.e., without conditions) runs the risk of the benefits of rezoning being captured by for profit interests.

Some of the 7 affordable housing projects now underway (e.g., particularly Croftonbrook) will address some of the housing needs referenced above. Also, as I have noted earlier, the CRD could play a role in facilitating low cost, unconventional housing through regulatory reforms (e.g., building bylaws) and bylaw enforcement policies. The CRD also plays a key role in providing supporting services such as waste disposal, rainwater catchment, pathways and public transit. Another role of the CRD Director is to advocate for funding from regional, provincial and federal agencies, for example from the CRD Regional Housing Trust Fund, into which I opted Salt Spring in 2006, and which funded projects such as Murakami Gardens.

As President of Abbeyfield, I worked with Island Women Against Violence to establish and fund the Cedars transition housing for women fleeing abuse. This project renovated an existing B&B. The re-purposing of existing housing may avoid current NSSWD water restrictions, and is a low cost housing alternative suitable for a range of needs, including workforce housing, which some employers have been establishing.

Farmworker housing is another aspect of affordable housing on SSI, and could be a key factor in increasing local food production. It is possible, but difficult, to gain Agricultural Land Commission support for farmworker housing on ALR land. I understand that Islands Trust land use bylaw changes could facilitate such housing, subject to ALC approval, but it will be important to ensure that this housing is actually affordable and used for farmworkers, does not alienate productive farm land, or ultimately result in the for profit subdivision of, or increased speculative pressure on the ALR. SSI’s OCP also allows agricultural activities on non-ALR land, the zoning for which is solely controlled by the Trust. However, the same caveats about farmworker housing on non-ALR land also apply.

Howard Holzapfel (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I support affordable housing especially in the Ganges core which can support densification with adequate water and sewer services. In the rural areas of SSI, I believe in preserving both the rural character and the agricultural uses of the land. Several attempts have been made by owners of rural land to create rental housing on their properties. We should be cautious here that these private projects don’t destroy the ambiance the drew us to Salt Spring. For housing projects outside the Ganges core, the property owner must recognize that proper water, sewer, and traffic mitigation must be addressed and support by neighboring property-owners enlisted.

Laura Patrick (candidate for Islands Trustee):

Our Official Community Plan (OCP) lays out a vision and sets objectives that “preserve and protect human diversity in our community by ensuring that the island’s people are accommodated by a broad spectrum of appropriate and accessible housing and facilities.” However, our Land Use Bylaws restrict housing options. As Trustee, I will explore a number of actions that could bring current Land Use Bylaws in line with the OCP’s support of alternative housing options, such as:

· Analyze the Land Use Bylaws, section by section and zone by zone, to identify where there are overly restrictive impediments to: secondary suites, tiny homes and other alternative housing options.
· Identify the bylaw amendments that will allow for more housing options that are consistent with our community’s character and work within our limited resources.
· Determine what people actually need for water, rather than rely on overly conservative engineering figures.

The following are some examples of changes to Land Use Bylaws that could result in more housing alternatives:

· Agriculture zones, A1 and A2, have more restrictions than mandated by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). Remove these restrictions to make them consistent with the ALC.
· Allow secondary suites in dwellings connected to community water supplies to use an alternative water supply, such as rainwater collection.
· The current Land Use Bylaws do not have an option for low impact cluster housing within an ecovillage zone. Conduct community consultation to explore creating an ecovillage zone.

Robin Williams (candidate for CRD Director):

As a member of the Islands Trust Conservancy Board (ITC) I have raised the issue of having the ITC look into holding covenants on farm land to allow and police real farm worker housing on farm properties. I have received some resistance particularly from the Chair who feels this is outside our jurisdiction in the act. The ITC does own one rental property on SSI which tends to contradict this. In short on the Trust side more can be done through innovative thinking and action.

I also support the increase of zoning densities in the upper Drake Road area abound the Lions Hall. I am a big supporter and adviser to the Dragon Fly project and want it returned to it’s original ownership concept. This will require fixing the water district requirement problem.

The actual land use bylaws are actually under control of the Island Trust and I am running for CRD Director. With this understood, I come with significant building experience, I have also taken the Linda Adams Planning Course and will support the Trust how I can as they deliberate bylaw and OCP changes.

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