OUR VIEW: Housing or parking?

Local leaders are going to have to be willing to make the concessions that will make such developments possible.

Bringing affordable housing to the Saanich Peninsula was going to take a strong stomach if it was ever going to happen.

Councillors with the Town of Sidney will have their guts tested as they work with the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society (GVRDS) to see if a proposed 52-units of workforce housing is even possible in the community.

Apart from people’s knee-jerk reaction to the terms ‘affordable’ or ‘workforce’ when it comes to new housing, local leaders are going to have to be willing to make the concessions that will make such developments possible.

With the high price of land working against them, the GVRDS has to ask for a relaxation of taxes and other fees if it can both buy the land at market value and pay for the construction in the first place. If none of that comes to pass, it’s conceivable that one of two things will happen: the lot will remain parking space, or will eventually be bought up for higher-priced housing that only compounds the issue of affordability on the Peninsula.

The community, at various levels, has stated it want more residential spaces that are easier for working families, younger people and working stiffs to afford. Now it’s time for them to put their money where their mouths are.

Diversifying the downtown will help, as Councillor Tim Chad says, put more feet on the street. Will this one project help solve all of Sidney’s economic issues and end the housing crunch here? Not at all. But it’s a start.

We encourage people to take a close look at this proposed project — and to weigh the pros and cons as equally as possible.

And that includes tackling the parking issue that seems to be taking centre stage. Building this project will remove one parking lot from the pool and it seems to be, so far, getting all the attention. We’d argue that this is a red herring. Yes, people seem to think parking is a problem in Sidney but if it’s a community worth visiting and shopping in, people will find that taking a few extra steps isn’t that big a deal.