Every month that goes by, fewer and fewer homes for regular people are available on Salt Spring. Rentals continue to leave the market due to the dual pressures of high real estate prices (encouraging homeowners to sell), and tourism / Air bnbs (encouraging homeowners to rent short term rather than long). A few affordable housing projects are happening, sort of, though the one that recently broke ground took 24 years of planning. That's one housing unit a year.
As for homes for sale, as this former Islands Trust trustee recently wrote, there are literally zero properties listed for sale today on Salt Spring that anyone making less than $80,000 a year could afford.
There are reportedly hundreds of people commuting on the ferries each day (one sailing wait anyone?) while more and more middle and working class people and families are looking at the unthinkable: packing up their lives, in some cases after decades of investing in this community, and moving elsewhere.
But it's not a housing crisis for everyone. Every year now sees hundreds of brand new "dream home" mansions being built. These new homes, often housing only a few people, are typically large, far outside of town, and designed for high resource use. You can build a large home today on your own lot with essentially zero requirements for conserving energy, water, or forests and biodiversity.
What's our community going to look like in 10 years as these trends, and the climate emergency, continue to get worse?
It doesn't have to be this way, and a group of local volunteers have been working hard to build momentum for a different future for our island, one where every Salt Spring resident has a safe, long term home that also minimizes its impacts on the natural environment.
Last month a delegation of affordable housing proponents (pictured below) presented a letter to the Islands Trust that included actions the Trust can take to ease the affordable housing crisis. As reported in the Driftwood, we said: "housing was one of the most important community issues in the 2018 election, but since then, nothing substantive has been accomplished."
This needs to change, and we all need to help.
The Islands Trust needs to hear that solving affordable housing is a top priority of our community.
So a group of volunteers decided to call for a Rally for Housing Solutions, at the Islands Trust offices on 500 Lower Ganges Road, Nov. 22 at 9 AM. This positive, solutions oriented rally is designed to encourage them along the path!
The affordable housing solutions we presented to the Islands Trust last month (you can see the full list here) are practical and achievable, within the Trust's jurisdiction, and fulfill the mandate of preserving and protecting our natural environment and unique island culture. They were endorsed by the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce, Transition Salt Spring, the Housing Council, and others, representing a diverse cross-section of island businesses, climate advocates, and more.
I hope you will join us in this positive, solutions oriented rally to help create more momentum for change. You can RSVP on our Facebook event or just show up! Please bring a friend!