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Local Group Seeks Water Action on Housing

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    February 27, 2019

At the root of so many solutions to the affordable housing crisis is water. We have to do better, and in one of the wettest parts of Canada, we know we can.

Our local water utility’s recent moratorium on any new hook-ups to their system – while created with positive intentions of protecting our precious resource – has had many unintended negative consequences on our community’s social sustainability.

North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s (NSSWD) 2014 moratorium was a well intentioned and forward-looking policy that aimed to protect current ratepayers from the increasing impacts of climate disruption (longer, drier summers). It has however made it nearly impossible for new affordable housing projects to happen within their service area. Smaller footprint dwellings and cottages, low income rental housing, or even tiny house villages can all be created with mandatory water conservation, water catchment, and graywater systems, yet literally none of these can happen in the NSSWD service area – which includes the Ganges village core – anymore due to the moratorium.

As it was designed the policy puts no pressure on existing NSSWD customers to conserve, and 100% of the impact is put on new hookups. That is not water justice, and as a caring community we know we can do better.

Click here to send NSSWD a letter asking them to make affordable housing a priority and work with the community to find creative solutions.

NSSWD staff do a fantastic job and deserve our respect for the work they do. However, senior staff and the Board are not acknowledging the unintended consequences of the water moratorium, and are providing no flexibility or leadership towards finding solutions.

Our community needs NSSWD to recognize the housing crisis has been impacted by the moratorium and their water bylaws, make this a priority in their new strategic plan, and work with others to find creative solutions that protect our precious resource while supporting the urgent needs of the community for more affordable housing.

NSSWD is hosting an open house to discuss their new strategic plan (which fails to mention affordable housing).

Please attend if you can! If you are not able to attend, you can use our handy letter-writing tool:

Send NSSWD a letter asking them to make affordable housing a priority.

We know we can find creative ways for the community to use the same, or even less, water while supporting well designed affordable housing solutions.

One last request: please refrain from criticizing or demeaning the NSSWD staff or board. They are working hard within their very limited mandate to manage complex infrastructure, protect their current ratepayers from future climate induced impacts, and protect our precious water ecology. 

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