Suites not so sweet as column suggests

Reader counters columnist's positive spin on secondary suite issue on Saanich Peninsula

Re: Secondary suites could be key to affordable living (Real Savvy, May 11)

This column (1) paints a very one-sided picture of the suite issue, (2) makes statements that can’t withstand scrutiny, and (3) presents numbers that don’t add up.

Regarding (1), the writer does not mention a single negative impact of suites that residents voice at public hearings on suites.

Regarding (2), the writer states, for example, that Central Saanich is progressive.  The CS 2011 removal of the requirement that the owner occupy one of the two dwelling units in a house with a suite, over the opposition of the public at the public hearing, is hardly progressive.

Regarding (3), the writer states that Victoria pays a homeowner up to $5,000 towards 25 per cent of the construction cost of a suite. Thus the suite cost is about $20,000. A single-family home in Central Saanich assessed at around $500,000 has corresponding 2011 taxes of about $3,000. Adding $20,000 to the assessment if a suite is added increases the taxes by about 4 per cent or about $10 per month.

The writer then goes on to state that suites will enhance the municipality’s revenues. Clearly, $10 per month is insufficient to pay for the services received by the occupants of the suite — it is a losing proposition.

In the case of Victoria, the situation is even worse.  With an interest rate as low as two per cent it will take Victoria decades to recover its $5,000. If interest rates go higher, the $10 per month wouldn’t even cover the interest. The only person who benefits from these suite arrangements is the homeowner who pockets the lion’s share of the rent money. The rest of the community, including renters in legitimate apartment buildings, is subsidizing the homeowner with the suite. This is grossly unfair.

Fred Peet

Brentwood Bay

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