Central Saanich plans to review current housing and land use policies after receiving a new housing report that found in the words of Coun. Niall Paltiel “significant” gaps. But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make a difference. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich plans to review current housing and land use policies after receiving a new housing report that found in the words of Coun. Niall Paltiel “significant” gaps. But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make a difference. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich plans to review housing policies and practices

But Coun. Chris Graham questioned whether the municipality can make any difference

Central Saanich will review housing and land use planning practices on the basis of a new housing report that has found gaps. But the public also heard from a councillor who questioned whether the municipality can actually do something about the issue of housing.

Councillors tasked staff to prepare a report reviewing current housing and land use policies, as well as best practices from other jurisdictions to identify policies assisting in the creation of both rental and home ownership after accepting a housing assessment report prepared by Urban Systems.

Coun. Niall Paltiel said the report with its important information presents Central Saanich with options: let it sit on the shelf or take specific actions. The report shows some “significant” gaps in rental, senior and workforce housing, he said. “And there may be areas where we can do something to address those gaps,” he said. Paltiel acknowledged that staff currently confront a heavy workload. But if he did not put a fixed deadline on the report, he pointed out that the report includes some information that may affect ongoing policy reviews and future zoning updates.

RELATED: New housing report says Central Saanich families find it increasingly difficult to find housing

The report required by the provincial government assesses the state of housing in the community. It finds Central Saanich’s vacancy rate was at 0.6 per cent in 2019, below the range of three to five per cent considered healthy by experts. It also makes a case for more rental housing as well as more housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Coun. Chris Graham, who voted against the motion to prepare the follow-up report, did not challenge the findings of the housing assessment per se, but questioned its framing and the larger premise that the municipality can actually do something about housing.

During his comments, he focused on the claim that a healthy vacancy rate ranges between three and five per cent. He acknowledged that a low vacancy rate has the potential to give landlords undue power over renters. “But from my recollection, in the last couple of decades, I don’t recall a situation in the (Capital Regional District) where vacancies have been over one per cent.”

While Graham acknowledged a vacancy rate between three and five per cent as sign of a “healthy market,” he questioned whether it is achievable. “I don’t know why it is relevant, because I don’t think we will ever achieve something close to that.”

Consultant Marina Jozipovic responded by saying “that’s a great point.”

Graham, who described the report as “really fascinating” in breaking down the housing market and its trendlines, then questioned whether the municipality can actually increase the local supply of housing, against the backdrop of some 7,000 existing units. “Anything we do is going to have a minimal effect on the actual average cost of those units,” he said.

Affordable housing, he said, had traditionally meant “older” and “run-down” housing. “Of course, we are now looking at ways to build new construction affordable housing, which completely runs in the face of those economic models.”

Graham later voted with his colleagues in favour of forwarding the report to the ongoing review of the Official Community Plan in a separate motion.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Steven Manchur, who lives near the proposed site of supportive housing in Central Saanich on Prosser Road, said the province has misinformed the public about the site. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich residents protest supportive housing project

BC Housing rejects claim that project will lead to more crime

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man who exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

A convicted sex offender, whose crimes included offences against children, was arrested at Gonzales Beach after the man was spotted by an off-duty officer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Convicted sex offender arrested at Gonzales Beach

After committing crimes involving children, offender barred from public beaches, being in proximity to kids

Victoria police arrested three men following a double stabbing April 19. The two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Three arrested after double stabbing in Victoria

Two people sent to hospital after being stabbed, hit with bear spray

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to go forward with legal action

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

Most Read