Holman seeking buy-in on affordable housing plan

MLA Holman taking stakeholders’ plan to local municipalities

Gary Holman isn’t after cash for his proposed needs assessment on affordable housing on the Saanich Peninsula, but he says he’s still finding it a hard sell.

Sidney council on Aug. 11 gave only halting approval to Holman’s request to support, in principle, joining an advisory committee and providing administrative support.

They told Holman, the NDP MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, he would have to get the same support from Central Saanich and North Saanich for Sidney to be completely on board.

“I’m not asking for money,” Holman told council during a presentation in which he briefly outlined a recent open house he and federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May held on April 19 on the subject of affordable housing.

Stakeholders in the issue in the region agreed then that to address affordable housing issues on the Peninsula, a needs assessment is required.

Already, he said that the Capital Regional District’s Henry Kamphof (CRD housing secretariat) has agreed to coordinate the study — as long as the three Peninsula municipalities were going to support it.

“So, I’m not after money, so much, but at least buy-in to the project,” he said.

Holman added once support is achieved, that will give the coordinator the ability to seek a variety of funding sources.

“We just want you to support a needs assessment and ideally, to participate, to add value through the three Saanich Peninsula municipalities.”

Such a study, Holman explained, would help identify local demand and save developers money when it comes time to build.

The open house participants discussed the fact that since the CRD Housing Trust fund was established in 2005 — and paid into by local municipalities — there have been no proposals made for affordable housing on the Saanich Peninsula.

In his notes on the meeting, Holman outlined that a consultant would likely be hired, with Sidney being asked to administrate the process.

Funding for the study could be found through sources like Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, B.C. Housing and other such organizations.

The report stated it could cost around $40,000, depending on degree of detail.

Out of any completed report would come an affordable housing action plan for specific projects.

Mayor Larry Cross said his council was, in general, supportive.

Council voted to offer its support, conditional on its neighbours doing likewise.

The District of North Saanich completed a housing study in early 2014.

It, in part, calls for the District of North Saanich to complete an affordable housing study or create a local policy on affordable housing.

To date, that part of the North Saanich housing study has not yet been addressed.