During the campaign, I have been asked a number of times about how Oak Bay can address the issue of affordable housing in this community. In my view, it’s a complex question that first requires a definition of what we mean by “affordable.” Given that I have lived in the two communities who have the highest property values in the CRD (North Saanich and Oak Bay), affordability is a very tough question in the context of these two communities.
Affordability generally was recently identified by the Victoria Foundation’s 2011 Vital Signs Report as the region’s number one issue. Last year’s report identified homelessness as the top issue and they are undeniably linked.
Exploring “affordable” housing options for Oak Bay will take a concerted effort on the part of a new Mayor and Council to work together with the community, its stakeholders, the non-profit sector and the business and development sectors, as well as with provincial and federal governments, to effectively tackle the issue.
In the meantime, as one of 12 regional partner municipalities in the CRD’s Regional Housing Trust Fund, Oak Bay makes an annual contribution to support subsidized housing through this Fund. (FYI, Mayor Christopher Causton chaired the Board’s Fund and I was a Board member). As a result of my involvement and what I saw as the need to do something to support affordable housing for communities that struggle with the issue of high property values, I proposed a motion to my Council (it passed) that enabled the municipality to reach beyond its annual contribution and voluntarily give more to the Fund.
Please visit the following website for details and click on the 2010-11 Annual Report, page 9: