On July 30, a public hearing at North Saanich council is to decide on a 27-home development on three lots (2166 and 2172 Bakerview Place as well as 9270 Lochside Drive), of which 10 would be administered by Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity CEO Yolanda Meijer said in a press release that it was the largest donation of serviced land in the local charity’s history, and its biggest construction project to date. The project consists of 10 Habitat homes (likely duplexes and triplexes), and 17 single-family homes targeted at people wanting to down-size.
The value of the land donated to Habitat for Humanity is worth $1.2 million according to developer Brian Berglund. He said Reay Developments Ltd. donated the land for many reasons, but also “because we could.”
“We had the ability to do it and it was something we knew…was very important to [council] in addressing affordable housing,” said Berglund in an interview. “We knew we would need a component to get council’s attention.”
“Unfortunately, most local governments don’t have land available to donate to local affordable housing charities,” said Meijer in a press release. “As a result, Habitat Victoria was trying to compete with developers for land and getting priced out of the market.”
In an interview with the PNR, Meijer said no Habitat for Humanity project has been built in North Saanich before, though some exist in Sidney and Central Saanich.
She said she understood that some community members and councillors wanted even more affordable housing, but 37 per cent of a property is already “unprecedented” for her, and she said 10 out of 27 homes in a development was very high in comparison to other developments on the Peninsula, where one in 20 or one in 17 would be donated.
Habitat for Humanity works with families and developers to provide homes for families by selling homes at a fair market value, financed with no-down payment, no-interest mortgages set at a maximum of 30 per cent of the family’s gross income. Families invest 500 hours of their own labour, called “sweat equity,” into building their home.
“This project has us working with a developer to achieve something that wouldn’t be possible without their incredible land donation,” she said, adding it was a good example of a partnership between a developer, Habitat for Humanity, and a municipality that needed more affordable housing options.
Berglund said he first approached North Saanich council in October of 2016, and knew he wanted to incorporate an affordable housing component into the overall project before taking this proposal to North Saanich council. After nearly two years, “we’re very close, for sure.”
Like every municipality in the CRD, Berglund said North Saanich also has had trouble finding land for affordable housing, and he saw this parcel of land as an opportunity. It is eight acres, but due to riparian setbacks (Reay Creek runs through their lot on Lochside) about four acres can be built upon.
The public hearing is scheduled for July 30 at 7 p.m. at the North Saanich Municipal Hall, 1620 Mills Rd.