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'The stakes are massive': Housing remains top issue ahead of Vancouver Island municipal elections


Fewer than three weeks before municipal elections, housing continues to dominate many campaigns on Vancouver Island.

Ross Crockford, a journalist with Focus Magazine, says while housing is always a big issue at the municipal level, it's bigger than usual this year.

"In this particular election it seems to be bigger than ever – the stakes are massive for so many people," he said Tuesday.

In Victoria, the controversial missing middle initiative, which would allow multiplexes to be built across the city without changes to zoning, sputtered a few weeks ago. A decision on the policy has been kicked down the road for the next mayor and council to decide – a table that will feature a new mayor and at least seven new councillors.

"So who gets elected is going to, in a way, be a referendum on this missing middle policy," said Crockford.

In Ucluelet, B.C., council voted three to two earlier this month to impose restrictions on short-term rentals and allow for carriage houses – steps its mayor says are aimed at addressing a lack of affordable housing and maintaining the character of its neighbourhoods.

"This is the largest decision that I made and I think this was the decision that was important to make in order to protect the 2,000 residents," said Mayor Mayco Noel.

The current mayor isn’t running again. Meanwhile, the two councillors who voted against the changes are running for mayor.

While the next municipal leader in Ucluelet may want to tweak the new bylaw, Noel thinks the essence of the new housing rules will remain.

"We stopped a bit of a storm that was coming to our front door," he said Tuesday.

In Oak Bay, B.C., council has recently taken steps to address its own housing problems, voting last week to green light secondary suites and ban short-term rentals.

"Housing is in a crunch everywhere, including Oak Bay, so this will help," said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

"It won't solve all the problems but it's one piece of the puzzle," he said.

A housing puzzle that's shaping up to large consideration when voters hit the polls next month. Top Stories

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