Are you considering leaving Salt Spring due to the housing crisis?

Are you considering leaving the island due to the stresses involved with finding or staying in a home? Know someone who is leaving or has already left? Please share your story.

After festering for years, our workforce housing crisis has only gotten worse, with so many of us finding it harder and harder to stay on Salt Spring. Our musicians, nurses, teachers, restaurant staff, tradespeople and even the very farmers working to feed us are being forced into the heart-breaking decision of saying goodbye to this community because they can't find housing, leaving us all the poorer as a result.

To all the people who are considering leaving, we SEE you, and we need to HEAR you.

Salt Spring is at a critical point where decisions are being made that will either start to finally address this crisis in our community, or continue to avoid and ignore it. Without action, the Salt Spring we love – the artists, families, young people, activists, counter-culture hippies and weirdos that have long been the lifeblood of this alternative community – might disappear.

We can still solve this, but the community needs to hear from you to help them build understanding and empathy, and for our leaders have the courage and mandate to act! By sharing your story and filling out this form below you will help us tell the story of how lack of workforce housing affects our community well being. We will share these stories (with your permission) online, in the local media, and at public meetings.

Thanks for sharing your story or forwarding this form to someone who you care about!

July 22, 2021 2:54 PM

  • Toby says:

    Thank you for this posting. Toby

  • w101 says:

    (It would be interesting to see public comments/opinions on this) So here's one:

    For most who are "considering leaving" there's no choice in the matter.. 🙂 I'm a resident of 11 years, and silly me, I did not figure out a way to get into the market (buy a house) years ago when it was still doable on a Carpenter's wage. So recently the house we've called home for many years .... -You guessed it.., it was just put on the market, and the best stay of execution is probably 3 months based on how these things normally go. We all know finding new rental accommodation is literally impossible with zero inventory, and 100's of other amazing families/individuals all searching for the same thing. Obviously the SSI low to middle class housing shortage is a complicated issue with many market/governance factors involved. Some real estate agents say we're "in a bubble.. just wait prices will come down.." I'm not so sure about that? The wonderful SarsCov2 lock downs have revealed to large sectors of the work force that they can now work from home, and why not set up home/office on Salt Spring Island vs $West Van$ for example? I certainly would.

    We had a chance with an island vote a few years ago to become a municipality and govern ourselves like adults, but SSI said .... "thanks, but no thanks.." That's democracy, and maybe those who said no are not interested infrastructure, and middle class family growth. They would prefer Salt Spring Island become a national park making it prohibitive for first time home buyers/new business . So there you go, it's their right as tax payers and property owners on Salt Spring to dictate their future, and they have. Maybe some day I will reach the financial level that would allow our family the privilege of living on Salt Spring Island in the future as it is currently governed. It is not a "right" to live here... I didn't buy a property when I had the chance, and so that's my own fault.

    C'est la vie.

  • w101 says:

    Typo above: meant to say "low income", in the "low to middle class housing...." sentence.. lol

  • David Murphy says:

    I agree that we need local, autonomous self-government with the authority to address the housing issue, among others. We are currently governed from Victoria (the Trust head office, the CRD and the Province); the local SSI Trust Council has too little authority to do anything substantive. Unfortunately, the majority of voters in the last referendum chose the status quo over what they probably perceived as risky change; those negatively affected by the affordable housing shortage either left already or were unable to come here in the first place; plus only a minority voted and these are usually the people who are listened to by government. For positive change to happen we need more people to get together to advocate for change and for political leaders with the courage to provide strong leadership and credible information on this issue.

  • Jacinthe Eastick says:

    If the people looking for housing on the island are living on the island, why do they need housing? Just wondering.
    Is it that their landlords are selling the place where they live ? Is it that the landlords are moving-in themselves? Is it that the landlords want to rent the housing unit as Airbnb? Is it that they are living in illegal dwellings? Often time, the WHYs are the questions to answer. Can more housing be accommodated without endangering the ecosystems, without destroying the rural character and without affecting the well-being of the current and future residents? Do you know the total number of residents your island is committed to with the current zoning?

  • Jacinthe Eastick says:

    I heard that your Local Trust Committee has created the potential of 2,000 new housing units in the recent past. Is this not true?

  • w101 says:

    The answer to your questions are probably yes.. 🙂 It's a combination of all of the above, and the classic supply and demand problem. Supply is has been hindered by regulation and red tape in one form or another for decades on SSI. So it's funny how we're forced to go to the source of the problem to ask for help in finding solutions... One of the scariest sayings known to man.. "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help"

  • oldboathouse says:

    We continually read as the Salt Spring Islands Trust tackles the serious problem of affordable housing and 2050 has identified housing as a priority. The Trust should look within as it is primarily responsible for the affordable housing crisis and yet often looks to others for solutions.

    The problem starts with Trust zoning bylaws where there is a very significant number of properties which are zoned as 5 acres or more as a minimum lot size. These bylaws make land ownership very costly and the creation of affordable housing on that land unlikely.

    Then, there are the bylaws of the Trust which allow only single family housing - there are almost no duplexes, triplexes, town houses, garden suites, or any dwelling over 2 stories, all of which would provide a reduced cost on the use of land for housing. These bylaws make building housing very costly, and with almost no provision for such middle housing which is generally the housing of the affordable category. Again, these policies make the creation of affordable housing unlikely. Also, housing for seniors is a similar problem less often talked about. These policies permit a no size limit sprawling house on a large lot but not other more affordable types of housing of less square footage on the same lot.

    So, what we have is large-lot single family housing which is not affordable. Add to this the lengthy time, expensive cost, and risk to obtain new housing approvals from the Trust, all of which makes housing even less affordable.

    This lack of diversity in Salt Spring Island properties provides for few options, except multi-million $ homes. We complain about what we allowed to be created as very few low cost alternatives exist under the current bylaws.

    Single people, couples, parents with young children, and seniors are struggling to find housing which meets their needs and resources, and which is causing people to leave Salt Spring. These people are needed for the business, health care, and community balance of Salt Spring, yet we are pushing them off on the Island. In order to correct this situation, bylaws are required to change to meet the challenges which face our community, including affordable housing.

    Regulatory changes are needed where zoning currently only allows single-family homes. Other regulatory changes are also required to make it easier to build more housing, including middle housing, that would fit the character of our neighbourhoods and meet the needs of our community. Today, our system promotes and makes it easiest to build the most expensive housing - single family homes on large heavily regulated properties at a high cost. Most people can not afford homes which are created by this process and the reason we have an affordable housing crisis.

    Bylaw change is required now, and not of the temporary or band aid type of change which will create other problems in the long term. It is often said that there are other matters which require consideration in determining a housing mix. These other considerations are manageable as well.

    Thank you for listening.

  • w101 says:

    Excellent post! Thank you very much for the insight. It explains the entire issue to a tee..