Affordable Housing - Shifting from Study to Action

In a post published on January 22, 2021, I wrote that I wasn’t able to locate any information about the “Housing Challenges and Solutions Planning Project” on the Islands Trust website. Ten days later, an open letter from Trustee Laura Patrick appeared on the Salt Spring Exchange: “I’m pleased to report that progress is being made towards tackling the affordable housing issue on Salt Spring. The Islands Trust’s Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC) has just approved a bold new Housing Action Program, and I’m confident it will finally put us on the right path to a solution”.

Full of excitement, I followed the link mentioned in Laura’s post, and there it was: The Salt Spring Island Housing Action Program!! My excitement didn’t last long, as I soon realized that the word ‘ACTION’ used in the name of the project was a misnomer. Instead of action, which is defined as: a thing done; an act, the project is merely a ‘study’ , a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. By the end of the project’s 30 month duration, no actions will have been taken to solve the housing crisis. Rather, phase three of the project will: Provide further timeline on the adoption process, final report to local Trust Committee (Fall 2023), and Public Hearing (Fall 2023).

So here’s the thing. By Fall 2023, Salt Spring will find itself in exactly the same situation in regard to affordable housing as it is now, as it was in 2016, in 2010, and way back in 2005, when the Community Housing Background and Report was published. That’s not progress. That’s not a solution that will address urgent housing needs.

Ideas for action:

  • Legalize all 900 potential seasonal cottages on Salt Spring which were not legalized under the recent Bylaw 512
  • Legalize the use of suites on every property on Salt Spring
  • Tiny homes, Z240RV trailers and 5th wheels, are to be included within the definition of “mobile home” within the Land Use Bylaw

Apart from Islands Trust covenant only Capital Regional District (CRD) Building Inspection water, septic building code requirements need to be met prior to issuance of building permit.

February 7, 2021 5:57 PM

  • Avatar cecile petra says:

    Absolutely agree - fantastic ideas. What's the hold up? Why is this so hard to figure out? Action is needed now.

  • Avatar Pierre Frisch says:

    This will only result in increased property prices. Look at what happened in North Vancouver when secondary suites were legalized. Secondary suites are not the solution it only encourage sprawl.
    We need to increase the density of our villages to protect the rural areas.

  • Avatar w101 says:

    The Islands Royalty/Governance does not want low/middle income "growth"... -that seems pretty clear in the last referendum/incorp attempt.
    You're making the mistake of looking at this "problem" like other communities would look at it across Canada. Those in charge have the resources to slow walk, and wait people like yourself out indefinitely as they buy their red tape in bulk.
    Probably better off moving to a progressive community that encourages healthy growth and opportunity for all. You will not win a battle against a community that will not even vote for simple self governance. Salt Spring Island is likely to remain essentially a private park for the majority land owners / rule makers for a long time.
    Eg: Compare Ganges to Chemainus aesthetically for example. The bland colours and boring architecture that is Ganges were all planned that way. Compare that to the colourful art / murals covering the walls all over the town of Chemainus. To me that tells you everything you need to know. Ganges doesn't even have a colourful "welcome" sign on any road when driving into it. Ever wonder why?

  • Avatar Colin Coe says:

    Interesting ideas , indeed why should we have a careful planning process? If Your suggestions if fully implemented would add another 1500 to 2000 dwellings to Salt Spring. Why stop there though - let's mow down those pesky trees to make room for anyone on the planet who wants to move to this small island with few jobs other than construction and seasonal tourism. Since incomes are so low to insure affordable housing we could simply add thousands of modified shipping containers on our soon to be de-nuded lands. As Western Canada's only barrio it could become a tourist attraction. If the aquifers run dry - well there is always desalination plants. We must remember that everyone on earth has the right to move here and is entitled to housing that fits their budget. And it is our obligation to alter our community and environment to insure that this is possible. We should start a Salt Spring 30/50 campaign to promote a population of 30,000 by 2030 and 50,000 by 2050. What the heck, why not 100,000? Because of course the carrying capacity of this small fragile island is pretty much infinite isn't it. We also have massively overstaffed social services with health care workers, social and mental health care workers and police all clamoring for patients and something to do. No doubt they would welcome the influx of new residents and the sooner the better. So yes by all means let us get rid of any restrictions and planning that could hamper the addition of affordable housing or any housing development .We could look like Hong Kong harbour if we really try. Remember,
    nature is only of value if it serves people, otherwise its just a waste of space.

    Thanks to Jonathan Swift for the inspiration for this comment.