Victoria’s Vital Signs Report gives this region a C– for housing, and notes that we need to provide affordable rental housing, alternative housing options (e.g., co-ops) and affordable homes for purchase. Colwood, like all other parts of this region, has an affordability crisis. Some of my thoughts on this are outlined below.
The affordability crisis affects anyone buying their first home or trying to upgrade to a different type of home. It can also be a puzzle for folks downsizing but wanting to stay in the area. The price difference between on older home on a largish lot and a new townhouse or condo is not always big enough to pay for the move and change the furniture, let alone add to the retirement fund.
Homelessness has many different causes from the couch surfers trying find something to rent or to save enough money for a deposit, to those with special needs and very low incomes.
The Provincial Government has moved to require every municipality to be involved in collection information on these problems and to being at least a part of the solution. The newly minted “Local Government Statutes (Housing Needs Reports) Amendment Act, 2018” will, when its regulations have been passed, require municipalities:
- to collect information to identify current and projected housing needs
- use that information to publish an online report about those needs over the next five years or more
- consider the information collected and the report published in publishing or amending an Official Community Plan
This is obviously being required because many municipalities have not done a very good job on addressing this need. Once the regulations are adopted, Colwood will know the details of exactly what information must be collected, in what form it must be reported and what other guidance/requirements the Province has for municipalities. Then Colwood can begin the work of bringing itself into line with these new requirements.
The City will need to keep an eye open for the announcement when the funding is made available (as promised in the Province’s “Housing Needs Report – Bulletin” July 3rd, 2018) and get an application in as soon as possible. The first housing report will be required three years after the regulations have been adopted, but the new Council should move swiftly to put in place a basic plan and budget so that the City is ready to move on the information gathering part as soon as the new regulations and the funding are available.
With this information we will have a better chance to understand the contribution Colwood is already making to solving this problem (as well as whether we are doing anything to make it worse). No one municipality can solve this problem even within their own boundaries but with the total picture we will have a chance to come up with a regional plan (yes, I know not all regional collaboration works well but see “Regional Interactions” below). Better information may also help define what the Province should be doing to help.
A good overview of the causes of homelessness https://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/island-voices-homelessness-and-the-reasons-it-exists-1.23382907
New stats being collected on income vs. rent https://www.timescolonist.com/real-estate/overspending-on-rent-has-become-the-new-normal-1.23296591
How a Canadian City ended homelessness https://www.goodnet.org/articles/how-canadian-city-ended-homelessness-simple-idea
Report on Cities that ended homelessness https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36092852
Victoria Vital Signs https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/vital-signs/