OUR VIEW: Defining our affordability

Throw the terms "affordable" and "attainable" aside – we won't get either without density and housing diversity

Affordable housing – or in some cases, attainable housing – is the new catch phrase for developers and politicians on the Peninsula these days.

They have good reason. Living here is simply unaffordable for plenty of families, including those who work locally.

According to the Victoria Real Estate Board, the median price for a single family house in North Saanich was  $642,000 in July, $532,500 in Central Saanich and $478,250 in Sidney. For townhouses, the median price was $395,000 in Central Saanich and $295,000 in Sidney. (No townhouses sold in North Saanich last month.)

Those townhouse prices are often cited as affordable or attainable for working singles or families and it’s true in some cases. But there’s another key ingredient here.

The key to afforadability – or attainability, whichever you prefer – is diversity, because single family houses will almost never be affordable. Our land costs are just too high.

Most Peninsula residents are in favour of affordable housing for working families – and for seniors too, who perhaps can’t shell out the better part of a million dollars for a home. The problem is, a large number of folks aren’t in favour of density.

You can’t have one without the other. Without massive subsidies, single family houses won’t become affordable for families and individuals who are just starting out.

That’s the starting point for affordable housing. The next step is ensuring any lower-cost, higher-density builds go to the right people in the right locations. It’s a point North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall has often raised with very good reason. But we can’t get there without taking that first step.

Density plus diversity equals affordability.