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CFB Esquimalt land could be used for more housing, Eby tells Trudeau

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B.C. Premier David Eby met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday and raised the idea of using federally-owned military land for housing.

The housing crisis has hit all parts of the province, including at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt near Victoria, where around 700 military members are on waitlists for housing.

Even members who have secured housing through the military say more is needed.

Jordan Desroches, who lives on the base with her three kids, says space is limited.

"We took a downgrade in size to move here, to be in one of the houses," said Desroches.

"Because of [how long] the wait is, we'd probably still be on a waitlist," she said.

Eby brought up the issue Wednesday when he met with the prime minister. He pitched the idea of increasing housing development on the federally owned lands.

"There's a big military base at Esquimalt with a lot of land and opportunity to build housing for families," he said.

Eby noted that the difference in density between the base and the surrounding area, evening within just a few metres, is striking.

The premier suggested that improving housing density on the base would provide more homes for military members, which would in turn lighten the load in the housing market in the surrounding area, where many members end up living.

"Take pressure off of the broader community, in terms of commute as well as housing," said Eby.

Housing advocates support the idea, noting that many homes on the base are older style, single-family homes that are very far apart.

Desroches says she would welcome greater density.

"A lot of the houses have a lot of property as well, which is unnecessary," she said. "We have huge yards."

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