Summary of Current Housing Initiatives on Salt Spring Island

Current Housing Properties and Projects
Minutes of the LCC, the local community commission on SSI

Up to 335 units could be developed on 10 properties already designated or zoned for affordable or market housing. This is not an exhaustive list. Most properties require development funding, and additional water and wastewater services and approvals. CRD has provided land (Drake Road), some Community Works Funds (federal ‘gas tax’) to help cover infrastructure costs for affordable housing servicing, and Growing Community Funds to increase the capacity of the Ganges sewer system.

CRD Drake Road – 5 acres leased by Capital Regional Housing Corporation for 60 years to BC Housing which is funding 28 units of supported housing, to be completed 2025. Potential for 50-80 units of additional affordable housing.

Dragonfly – On Drake Road, being rezoned for 30 units of affordable ownership employee housing. Working with CRD to establish required water utility.

Seabreeze Inne – Being renovated by Lady Minto Hospital Foundation for 18 units of affordable health worker housing.

King’s Lane – Rezoned for 50 units of seniors’ housing. Project design being redefined. Grant application submitted to latest round of BC Community Housing Fund program not successful, PDF funding still possible.

Norton Road – Rezoned for 26 affordable housing units in addition to existing SFD. An SSI NGO is exploring purchase and development possibilities with BC Housing.

Brackett Springs – Zoned for 11 units of affordable housing, being sold by Vancity.

Brinkworthy – SS Community Services proposing a housing and agriculture project including 35-40 units of affordable housing on 12 ALR acres. Requires Trust and Agricultural Land Commission approval.

Swansons Pond – Zoned for 30 units of market housing.

Kangro Road – Zoning allows for 20 additional market housing units.

CRD Regional Housing Acquisition Fund and Rural Housing Program

The CRD Board is advancing Future Housing Priorities and Partnership (FHPP) initiatives to address unmet need related to housing affordability and homelessness through innovation, partnership, and cross-sectoral collaboration. The FHPP includes a focus on Rural Housing, an Acquisition Strategy for all of CRD and a program to support complex care in partnership with Island Health.

The CRD recently increased borrowing capacity to $85 million to support its housing priorities. This debt capacity will support seed funding for a scaled-up housing supply program, aiming to use it to leverage contributions from senior governments like the successful partnerships that led to the creation of the previous Regional Housing First Program.

The CRD’s Acquisition Strategy aims to increase and/or preserve the supply of affordable rental housing within the region. The Acquisition Strategy will help to guide investment decisions using set criteria intended to help inform the CRD Board on prospective acquisition and investment.

The CRD also endorsed a Rural Housing Program (RHP) as a pilot for the Salt Spring and Southern Gulf Island Electoral Areas. The approach recognizes the need to approach housing solutions in the CRD’s rural remote communities with different expectations than those used for conventional housing projects in more densely populated urban regions. The RHP aims to support housing initiatives on the island through coordination, incentives, and pre-development funding for multi-family affordable housing projects. As a pilot, work in 2024 is focused on developing the program and community engagement to test the uptake of some initiatives, which, subject to CRD Board approval, could be implemented starting in 2025/2026.

Southern Gulf Island Tourism Partnership (Municipal Regional District Tax)

The Southern Gulf Islands Tourism Partnership (SGITP) is seeking renewal of its designation as the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for collection of a 2% Municipal Regional District Tax (MRDT) applied to visitor accommodation in the SSI and SGI electoral areas. Provincial legislation allows MRDT funding to support affordable housing. SGITP has used a portion of the MRDT to support Housing Now, a landlord-tenant matching service offered by the SGI Community Resource Centre in the SGI electoral area, soon to be delivered by a newly hired coordinator on SSI. SGITP has also agreed to help fund the CRD Rural Housing Program (RHP), and has established a housing reserve fund.

As local government for electoral areas, the CRD Board has endorsed the SGITP as DMO for SSI and SGI for the next 5 years. The CRD Board has also directed staff to finalize an agreement with SGITP regarding RHP funding. Subject to approval by tourism accommodation providers in the two electoral areas, SGITP has indicated support for allocating all of the MRDT collected from online accommodation platforms (OAPs such as AirBnB, Vrbo) to housing programs, with a focus on workforce housing. OAP MRDT revenue in 2023 is slightly over $300,000, but recent federal and provincial legislation makes future predictions difficult.

Salt Spring Solutions

In 2023, Salt Spring Solutions, and island based non-profit society concerned with developing solutions to the interconnected issues of ecosystem protection, social equity, and climate action, published “Homes for Islanders: An Integrated Housing Solutions Framework for Salt Spring Island,” which identifies five strategies
for our addressing Salt Spring’s immediate housing problems:
1. Coordinated and Properly Resourced Local Approach to Housing
2. Effective Public Education, Engagement, and Dialogue on Housing
3. Preservation of Rural Areas and Nature Space through Clustered Housing
4. Readying Ganges Village for More Housing
5. Accessory Dwellings for Housing, in the Right Places

Islands Trust Land Use Changes

The Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (SSI LTC) has several ongoing initiatives to address the housing equity and workforce shortage crisis on the island. These include:
• Bylaw No. 537, which will amend the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw to allow for the construction of detached accessory dwelling units on approximately 370 lots where they are not currently permitted;
• A Complete Communities Assessment that will propose alternative scenarios for locating additional housing options on the island; and
• A housing-focused official community plan and land use bylaw amendment project; and
• Ongoing communications with the BC Ministry of Housing for Salt Spring Island to be included in Bill 44 provisions concerning secondary suites and accessory dwelling units.

Other recent housing initiatives undertaken by the SSI LTC include:
• Bylaw No. 526 (2022) which amended the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw to:
o Allow for the construction of detached farmworker dwelling units in addition to secondary suites on working farms that are in Agricultural zones;
o Allow for the construction of multiple farmworker dwelling units on working farms that are not in Agricultural zones in exchange for the reduced subdivision potential of those lots;and
o Implemented a maximum floor area for residential dwelling units on Salt Spring Island of 500 m2.
• Bylaw No. 512 (2020) which amended the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw to allow the full-time rental use of what were previously seasonal cottages on approximately 400 lots
• Bylaw No. 515 (2020) which amended the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw to allow for the construction of a new 50-unit seniors supportive housing complex
• Bylaw No. 507 (2019 ) which amended the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw to allow an additional 74 multifamily dwelling units, of which 34 must be affordable housing dwelling units

Provincial Funding and Legislation

BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund – Grant funding to support affordable rental housing. 20% of the units must be at ‘deep subsidy’ rates, 50% rent geared to income (30% of median income), and 30% average market. (e.g., SSI Commons, Croftonbrook)

BC Housing’s Affordable Home Ownership Program (AHOP) – aims to increase affordable housing for middle-income households across BC. The program helps home purchasers to target a minimum down payment of 10% on the home’s value.

April 2024

GISRA’s Kings Lane site is a 3.43-acre property located at 154-164 Kings Lane. It currently houses a 3,177 sq. ft. Health Clinic which will remain and possibly expand, as well as a temporary supportive housing facility under lease to BC Housing.
Previous plans for this site included construction of ‘Meadowlane’ a supportive seniors’ residence. Islands Trust rezoning to Residential Zone Variation 12(a) was achieved in February 2020 allowing 50 units of seniors housing in a single 3-storey building (2 units may be for staff).

A Housing Agreement was registered. The agreement includes various administrative
requirements, but importantly defined qualified renters as those who are 65 years of age or older, limited occupancy to two residents, and established maximum monthly rental charges.

The agreement was silent on supportive service costs. Detailed design and engineering drawings for a 78,598 sq. ft. building (32,809 sq. ft. footprint) were then produced, and a revised Development Permit was approved in 2021.


The project has not proceeded, as GISRA is re-evaluating the need and demand for this type and scale of facility, because of community feedback and local seniors’ responses about their personal moving plans and preferences including timing and affordability.

The financial feasibility of the proposal is also in question, given both the affordability for many local seniors, and the higher than anticipated construction and operating cost estimates. Consultations with other local seniors’ and other housing providers, employers and stakeholders contributed to GISRA’s consideration of other options.

In November 2023, GISRA applied to BC Housing (BCH) for funding under the Community Housing Fund (CHF) program under a revised concept. The application was not successful, and GISRA awaits BC Housing’s decision on PDF funding to assist in refining the revised concept and updating design drawings accordingly.


Community consensus indicates that one of the greatest needs that this project could serve would be for staff housing for a wide range of incomes, with a focus on lower-middle incomes as much as is financially feasible. Younger and independent seniors, some of whom may still be employed, could be included.

GISRA has initiated a process to refine the feasibility and need and demand according to this revised concept. This concept appears to be a good fit within the recently announced BC Housing BC Builds Program (BCB), and GISRA is planning to apply in the spring of 2024.

This revised concept would require revisions to the Islands Trust zoning bylaw and housing agreement to remove the 65+ age and occupancy restrictions; support for these changes has been secured from both staff and Trustees. GISRA’s constitution specifies providing housing for seniors, and therefore may need to be revised.

In anticipation of a PDF loan commitment resulting from the CHF application, planning, design and consultation activities are expected be completed in 2024 with the objective of initiating pre-construction activities in 2025.


The following concept is presented for discussion purposes and as the basis for the upcoming BCH BCB funding application. It is recognized to be preliminary in nature, and expected to be revised during the planning stages to ensure it is financially feasible and meets both GISRA’s and the community’s needs.

The assumption at this stage is that Kings Lane would be designed as a standard rental building, with a range of 1-2-3 bedroom units to accommodate a range of household sizes. Revision to include some studio units is under consideration. The building would include typical office and other amenity areas.

Target Market – BCB requirements

The BCB funding model is quite broad as to target market, simply directed towards middle income households. The median household income for Salt Spring Island is $77,500 according to the 2020 Census. For preliminary planning purposes, the follow average incomes are targeted:

BCB Targets % unit mix # units Income @30%

Market 80% 40 $77,420
Below market 20% 10 $61,200
Total/average 100% 50 $74,176

Need and Demand

Salt Spring is experiencing a serious affordable housing crisis. The 2020 Housing Needs Assessment continued to demonstrate very strong need for more affordable rental housing. Very low vacancy rates in existing stock are increasing rental rates and pushing renters off Salt Spring. Existing stock is unaffordable for most families, impacting lower income households and persons with disabilities
especially hard.

Employers, including essential services, consistently report difficulty in recruiting and retaining employees due to the shortage of affordable housing. Over half of Salt Spring's population is over 55, with very high levels of core housing need; few housing options existing especially for lower income seniors. Salt Spring has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the Province, including many who
are working but unable to find housing. All other affordable housing providers report very few, if any, vacancies, and consistent requests for tenancy.

It is GISRA’s plan to develop housing for the workforce, with a focus on those working in the health care and seniors care professions. The Kings Lane site is ideal for these healthcare workers, as it is within walking distance of Salt Spring’s hospital, doctors’ offices, and the long-term, assisted living and memory
care facilities. Discussions are underway with these health care employers on how to best target their employees’ housing needs.

Unit Mix – preliminary only

The unit mix is not yet final, rather is being examined and refined based on need and demand in the community and GISRA preference as to household composition/size.
Below is a preliminary mix used for preliminary planning and feasibility analysis.
Unit mix # units Estimated rent

Studio 0 n/a n/a
1-bedroom 5 $1,458 Affordable (20% < mkt)
1-bedroom 20 $1,823 Market
2-bedroom 5 $1,602 Affordable (20% < mkt)
2-bedroom 15 $2,003 Market
3-bedroom 5 $2,183 Market
Total/Average 50 $1,854 Weighted average
Unit sizes – preliminary only

For preliminary planning purposes, BCH unit size guidelines have been utilized. The
expectation is that these areas will be increased by 12% for the 3 units planned for wheelchair accessibility.

Average unit sizes # units Sq.ft.
Studio (n/a this concept) 0 350
1-bedroom 25 525
2-bedroom 20 725
3-bedroom 53 925
Weighted Average 50 649

Site & Building Design

For preliminary planning purposes, the assumption is that there will be one 3-storey building, roughly located where the previous supportive housing facility was planned. There will be explorations as to what previous design or engineering work is transferrable, but this is not assumed at this point. No further details on building design have yet been considered, but GISRA is exploring the cost and timing implications of a prefabricated construction option, as well as the risk and cost implications of a 2-phase construction.

Common Space

BCH guidelines on common and amenity space and circulation are used for preliminary planning and costing. The concept plan produces an overall building efficiency ratio is 82%, with 18% of the building dedicated to indoor amenity, common laundry, program and office spaces.


Preliminary capital and operating proformas have been developed for this concept plan to test financial feasibility and for discussion with the GISRA Board and BC Housing. Estimated rental rates will be used for market comparisons and to test demand in the community. Once refined, they will be used as the basis for an upcoming BCH BCB funding application.

Preliminary Capital Budget

A preliminary capital budget was produced, based on a consolidation and extrapolation actual per sq.ft. capital cost of two recent BCH CHF buildings on Salt Spring (22+34 = 56 units) and a contractor Class C construction cost estimate for a similar design on this site. Using the amount of mortgage supportable as per the Preliminary Operating Budget (below), the amount of the capital shortfall was then calculated to establish a rough estimate of the amount of BCB grant that may be required to ensure financial feasibility. A Quantity Surveyor estimate will be produced once the concept design is finalized.

Preliminary Capital Budget April 2024
Appraisals/Studies 22,500
Acquisition and Servicing 4,350,000
Municipal Fees 284,000
Utility Fees 142,500
Design Consultants 1,297,000
Consultants 515,500
Page 19
Miscellaneous Soft Cost 671,500
Borrowing Cost 257,600
Construction 15,740,100
Building Start-up/Commissioning 122,000
Contingency 2,100,000
TOTAL COST 25,502,700
less GISRA equity (3,800,000)
less 35-yr. mortgage (11,500,000)
BCH BCB capital grant 10,202,700
BCH grant per unit 204,000

Preliminary Operating Budget
A preliminary operating budget was produced, based on GISRA’s long experience of operating non-profit housing on Salt Spring Island. This indicates that the project could support a mortgage of up to $11,500,000 (4.5%, 35-yr, 1.15x DCR).

Preliminary Operating Budget April 2024
Gross rent potential 1,112,640
Other Revenue (laundry) 24,000
Less Vacancy @ 3.2% (36,000)
Total operating expense (315,620)
Replacement Reserve (39,600)
Less Debt Service (649,542)


GISRA discussion with BC Housing for agreement in principle or suggested revisions to the proposed concept for eligibility under the BCB program. For clarity, this proposal is a working concept for testing of feasibility and determination of
suitability for application to the BCH BCB program. It is a starting point, not a final plan.

GISRA is open to revisions based on discussions with BCH and refined understanding of need and demand from discussions with stakeholders the community. Discussions with stakeholders have begun and to-date have been very supportive of this revised concept. These discussions are ongoing and may proceed to a larger community consultation if current stakeholder consensus on need and demand is not sustained.

Full meeting minutes here:

May 19, 2024 1:38 PM