Sooke builder Herb Haldane raised the issue in a presentation to Sooke Council: Sooke construction workers (and more) can’t afford to live in Sooke. The matter has grabbed media’s attention, and for good reason. In case you missed it, here is recent coverage from CTV
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With an attitude nestled somewhere between Supertramp’s “Crisis? What crisis?” and Alfred E Neuman’s “What, me worry?”, the District is addressing the matter at a snail’s pace crawl.
Yes, a select committee on Affordable Housing was recently approved. But in spite of this resurrected interest in committees (an election is less than a year away), the soonest an affordable housing committee can be struck is February (super optimistic) or March of next year. The Committee’s terms will need to be written and approved by Council, advertising for committee members needs to happen, and members need to be selected and oriented. Once committee work begins in earnest in March or April, there will be a couple of monthly meeting and then it’s summer break. Once Council reconvenes in September, all attention will focus on October’s election.
Yes, Sooke is considered one of the more “affordable” housing regions in B.C. But, as Haldane points out in the interview with CTV, rental rates limited to 30% of a person’s (or family’s) income is simply not a reality in Sooke.
The current “on-the-books” solution from the District is politely ask developers to dedicate 10% of their development to affordable housing. While the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines “affordable” housing as costing nor more than 30% of a household’s gross income, the District accepts a vague portion of rental units as an affordable option, whatever the rental rates may be.
A second option for developers is to pay $500-a-door to the District. When Sooke houses typically sell for $400,000+, $500 a door represents a fraction of one per cent (0.13 per cent). Not surprisingly, some developers opt for the $500-a-door (the 0.13 per cent) contribution. Not yet guided by a current Official Community Plan (last updated in 2010, and provincially mandated to be updated every five years), the District puts those collected funds toward affordable housing. At a June 2017 Council meeting, staff noted the decade-old fund now sits at $52,000, a number so low it wouldn’t even cover the cost of comprehensive study.
So, in the meanwhile, the affordable housing crisis will continue into the foreseeable future. Without an OCP, there is no guidance; with only $52,000 in an affordable housing fund, there is no money; with the month of vacation ahead, there is only one Council meeting remaining this year (December 11).
Haldane’s urgent push for an immediate solution, while representing the very real need of Sooke residents (and shed, basement, camper, and car dwellers, and the soon-to-be-evicted), will be pragmatically unlikely.
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- B.C. government invests in new homes for Indigenous peoples in Langford
- Affordable rental homes on the way in Sooke (244 units) and Langford (250 units)
- New affordable homes, child care spaces on the way for people in Langford
- Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the annual allowable rent increase will be 2.5%.
- Letter: Compassion is needed, as many with homes are also one paycheque away from being homeless
- Rapid response to homelessness sees 2,000 modular homes built in BC
- Homelessness in Sooke: It exists
- Members of Affordable Housing Committee appointed
- District seeks membership for the Affordable Housing Committee
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