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Group of 14 non-profits calls on municipalities to do more to create affordable housing


A group of 14 non-profit housing providers has joined forces to create the Vancouver Island Housing Leadership Network, with the goal of seeing more affordable housing built.

“We operate over 6,000 units,” said Carolina Ibarra, CEO of Pacifica Housing.

The network is calling on municipalities and candidates in the October municipal election to facilitate the building of much needed affordable housing on Vancouver Island.

The group's six "calls to action" are:

  1. To establish a "housing centre" in each municipality to facilitate and accelerate the approval of affordable and supportive housing proposals.
  2. To unlock access to municipal land for the development of new housing.
  3. To implement financial exemptions for non-profit developers – including exemptions from property taxes, development cost charges and municipal improvement obligations.
  4. To accelerate approval processes for affordable housing projects, following the City of Victoria's model
  5. To promote collaboration between municipalities, housing providers and health authorities to support individuals in crisis.
  6. To consider the VIHLN as an expert resource on issues related to affordable and supportive housing and the people who need it.

“We’re in a very unusual development environment right now where construction costs are quite high,” said Virginia Holden, executive director of the Greater Victoria Housing Society.

Currently, non-profits are facing construction costs of $500 to $600 per square foot.

These non-profits benefit from grants and loans from all levels of government in terms of grants and loans, but they say there are still a lot of factors that make building more units extremely difficult.

“We’re hopeful that it’s going to be well received,” said Ibarra of the VIHLN's call for action.

“I think that most candidates sincerely want to do good things for their communities.”

A local political scientist says the group's collective voice could prove effective as municipal elections loom.

“I think it’s more effective because they are pooling their resources,” said Daniel Reeve, an instructor of political science at Camosun College.

“You are showing that they are willing to work together and press candidates on what has been one of the longstanding issues in Victoria.”

Namely, homelessness and housing affordability.

Back in February, then-Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby said he was considering bringing in legislation that could rezone municipalities and allow for stalled developments to proceed.

“We do see some areas where municipalities are simply refusing to approve necessary housing,” said Eby at the time.

Ibarra said the VIHLN hopes municipalities will approve housing on their own, adopting the group's six recommendations.

“The ideal is that municipalities will come to the table and do what’s right for their communities,” said Ibarra. Top Stories


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