Ian Brown of Tower Premium Woodworking tours Green Party leader Elizabeth May around his North Saanich workshop while promoting a national affordable housing plan.

Ian Brown of Tower Premium Woodworking tours Green Party leader Elizabeth May around his North Saanich workshop while promoting a national affordable housing plan.

May calls for housing plan

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, is calling for a national plan to help expand affordable housing.

“We have a very full platform and commitment to affordable housing,” said May. “We have a two-part approach. We need to bring in low income housing, which we address through infrastructure funds for municipalities, through assistance in CMHC and for a commitment to ensure that no Canadian is homeless because they can’t afford a roof over their head and can’t find housing when they need it.

“Beyond that there’s that other piece of the puzzle. How do we ensure, not just low income housing, but affordable housing for people who are not in poverty but can’t get that roof over their head: young families, workers in communities like ours on the Saanich Peninsula. There are a lot of solutions for that issue, some of them are governmental solutions, some of them are more market-based and where the private sector can play a larger role, we also support the work of the co-operative housing societies in Canada.”

The Greens would increase funding for low income housing and implement a National Affordable Housing plan to set an annual rate of building affordable housing so that the supply of housing is no longer an issue by 2019. Under the plan a Green government would build 20,000 new and 10,000 rehabilitated, subsidized units per year for the next 10 years using capital grants and changes in tax and mortgage insurance regulations. The party supports the delivery of dramatically increased social housing dollars to provincial and municipal governments through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“These are small fixes that would actually make a big difference in opening up more affordable housing for Canadians,” May said. “It’s not just the Saanich Peninsula … I hear about it everywhere I go across Canada.”

“Our concern here on the Peninsula is that a number of businesses can’t get the workers they need because the applicants simply can’t afford to live in Saanich, especially in Central and North Saanich because the price of land and the low density of developing areas makes the price of a home out of reach. So these people decide … we just don’t want to commute from such a long distance,” said Ian Brown, owner of Tower Premium Woodworking. “What happens is that these businesses are really finding it difficult to expand and attract new workers. They have lots of good jobs, but if you can’t live close, then it creates a problem for them.”

Parking is tight in industrial areas, and many are not prepared to increase their carbon footprint travelling from outlying Greater Victoria communities like Langford and Sooke.

“Public transportation is difficult, parking is very limited and the time and carbon footprint of long commutes discourages them from filling these important jobs. Businesses need a large enough, stable labour pool in order to thrive,” said Brown who is also a Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce board member.

“It should be the right of every Canadian to have affordable, safe and secure housing. It enhances people’s health, dignity, and life opportunities,” said May. “Affordable housing will alleviate poverty, and ultimately make for a more stable, secure, and prosperous society for everyone.”