Make Less Than $80K? Maybe You Can't Live Here

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!

Delegation of Affordable Housing Proponents

November 12, 2019 12:12 PM

Community Comments

  • I won't be back to the island in time to attend. Thus please consider or feedback here on the following suggestions for your meeting. Why not levy special taxes on people who are building or have built large resource-wasteful homes for only a few people, possibly also targeting people for whom their Salt Spring home is actually a secondary home and they have a main home somewhere else like Vancouver. The use this tax money to use towards buying land for a cohousing project similar others that now exist (e.g. OPAL Community Land Trust on Orcas Island or even some in the Gulf Islands). A possible plan could be ~20 sites designated for use only for homes no bigger than 800 sq. ft, perhaps members share admin duties, water comes from catchment system, no personal septic system (only at the main community house) but rather composting toilet systems, and agreed upon stipulations that eventual sale of homes are not for profit or follow real estate trends in any way .

  • Avatar Joseph Albert says:

    One of the main objectives of the Provincial Government's new luxury tax on empty homes is to reduce the number of vacant homes and to make more rentals available because the tax does not apply to homes that are rented. It boggles the mind why this tax does not apply to Saltspring Island. Why not lobby the provincial government to change this???

  • Avatar Owen Fitzpatrick says:

    Unfortunately it doesn't apply because people (including realtors on Salt Spring Island) successfully lobbied our "green" MLA Adam Olsen to put pressure on the NDP to exclude the gulf islands. See this letter to Adam Olsen: https://saltspringexchange.com/2018/03/08/speculation-tax-open-letter-to-adam-olsen-mla-salt-spring-island/

  • Avatar Owen Fitzpatrick says:

    And for further evidence, see this quote from Adam Olsen: “I heard from many concerned Gulf Islanders who were worried about how the speculation tax might impact them and we kept pressure on the government to address these issues,” said Olsen.

    “I’m glad that the government has recognized that this tax doesn’t make sense for rural areas like the Gulf Islands."

  • Avatar Harry says:

    the Elitists from the Trust don’t care about average folk.. that’s the cold, hard facts.