At the January 28th Public Hearing for Bylaw 512, several members of the public criticized the bylaw as ineffective at achieving its stated goal of increasing the supply of long-term, rental housing. Representatives from Salt Spring Solutions spoke-up in opposition to the current iteration of Bylaw 512. They believe the bylaw is too limited and onerous to make any real impact, and that Trust resources should be redirected to other housing work.
They noted that the recommendations they had submitted to improve the effectiveness of Bylaw 512 in October 2019 had not been integrated. In fact, few of the housing solutions requested by a coalition of island groups that includes Salt Spring Solutions, the Chamber of Commerce, Transition Salt Spring and the Housing Council have been made it onto any of the Islands Trust actions plans or project lists.
About 150 people rallied in front of the Islands Trust Office on November 22, 2019 in support of housing solutions and over 900 residents have signed a petition asking for immediate action on the Housing Crisis.
In detail, here are the housing solutions submitted to the Islands Trust by Salt Spring Solutions which should be part of the solutions for more local, affordable housing:
Housing/Climate Actions the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Can Take Now
- Create a Senior Planner position that is dedicated to affordable and sustainable housing projects, policies and bylaws on Salt Spring Island. (ie. cottages, suites and multi-unit housing solutions for families, workforce, youth and seniors, etc.)
- Address implementation issues with proposed Bylaw 512 - Affordable Housing - Cottages
- Option 1 (preferred): Abandon proposed Bylaw 512 and amend OCP to allow for the term “seasonal” to be removed from the Land Use Bylaw. Update Land Use Bylaw to enable cottages island-wide on properties where a sustainable, alternative water supply can be proven.
- Option 2: Revise proposed Bylaw 512
- Provide incentives within the mapped R(f) zones for provision of rental housing that is rent-controlled.
- Provide incentives within the mapped R(f) zones for "alternative sources" of potable water for cottages.
- Remove floor area limit based arbitrarily on lot sizes, and return floor area limits to general regulations.
- Consider removal or revision of item 2.2 (8) (as written, April 2019) to allow appropriately-sized stratas within R(f) zones. (See recommendation #7 in Affordable Housing Strategic Actions report, January 2019)
- In order to maximize the potential impact and uptake of allowing year round use of only 400 of some 1300 properties currently zoned for a “ seasonal” cottage, we propose that the permitted use be granted on a first come first serve basis to applicants who meet a basic set of criteria:
- Notice of Intent to rent cottage on a full time basis
- Proof of sufficient water supply and safe waste management. The water supply must be from a sustainable alternative source if property is located in an area with known supplies issue
- Commitment to build and/or rent cottage within a reasonable time frame
- Review and update Secondary Suites Bylaw 461:
- Amend the 1200 L/d suite internal water requirement to a per bedroom rate that is the same or similar to cottage "proof of sufficient supply" that is in current practice at the CRD Building Office.
- State explicitly that use of stored rainwater for secondary suites, with suitable plumbing is permitted following rainwater storage and use guidelines, including Bylaw 461 properties that fall within North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD)
- Stipulate in Bylaw 461 that suites in accessory buildings are a possibility in all or designated appropriate zones.
- Designate zones in Bylaw 461 for caretaker suites within commercial buildings in appropriate "village" areas of Salt Spring Island.
- Advocate for an amendment to the NSSWD water moratorium to enable the construction of secondary suites and caretaker suites that use water alternative sources within the NSSWD service area
- Expand the area of eligible properties for a secondary suite to areas within current and potential bus routes, and areas of known abundant ground or surface water supply. Consider creating a target number of suites that can be applied for on a first come first serve basis according to a set criteria as suggested above (see 2.e)
- Develop a new bylaw to enact a zoning model that goes by the name "Ecovillage" or "Home Plate" in other jurisdictions.
- In essence, the residential/commercial land uses are designated within a footprint of the total lot area and remaining lot area is put into protection/conservation covenant.
- Allows for clustered housing for 1 principal residence and 2 or more secondary dwellings (suite, cottage, tiny homes, farmworker housing) as well as specified food production or other home-based business/commercial uses.
- Pre-existing DPAs apply.
- Floor area ratio for dwellings and/or number of secondary dwellings could increase in a manner that matches lot size increases. (ie. Either greater total floor area allocated to secondary residence, or a number and type of secondary residences stipulated in the bylaw).
- In other regions, such zoning models give the landowner "eco-credits" (also known as "density bonus in exchange for amenities") (e.g. rainwater use, permaculture design, zero energy, composting toilets, etc.).
- Create local "Rainwater Harvesting and Use Guidelines".For potable and non-potable uses of rainwater across all land use zones, and in approved dwellings (and any water deemed as "greywater").
- Undertake locally-adapted actions based on the 2019 Islands Trust Affordable Housing Strategic Actions report
- Identify resources and publicly communicate a timeline for updating the Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw. It is time to undertake comprehensive updates of the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land Use Bylaw (LUB) because:
- The OCP and LUB were adopted in 2008 and 1999 respectively. The LUB does not successfully implement the existing OCP. Both documents are out-of-date. They have only remained current through piecemeal amendments that fail to comprehensively integrate new legislation and best practices in land use planning, conservation, transportation or housing.
- Neither documents prioritize the Housing Crisis or Climate Emergency. Setting strong direction and providing a greater level of detail is required to make the meaningful, timely and lasting changes we need.
- Salt Spring Island is over 2 years out from the referendum on incorporation which was both decisive and divisive. It’s time to come back together as a whole community to renew our vision for tackling important issues while protecting this island we all hold dear.
- Advocate loudly and persistently at the regional Trust Council and to senior staff at the Islands Trust head office in Victoria for sustainable, affordable housing to be recognized and resourced as a regional planning priority.
Substantial background research and analysis that supports implementation of actions #1 - #6 is already completed by Islands Trust staff and/or professional consultants (see References below plus staff reports related to bylaws 461 and 512). Further planning studies are not required. All we need to make real change is leadership and dedicated resources.
Normandy Daniels. 2003. Options for Affordable Housing: New Solutions to the Housing Crisis in the Islands Trust Area