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New recommendations on housing need support

About a year ago, the Islands Trust created a new citizen-volunteer group to help find solutions for our workforce housing crisis.

On November 9 the LTC is set to receive the first set of recommendations from its “Housing Action Program Task Force.” We have reviewed the Task Force’s recommendations, and agree many would lead to more housing options for our local workforce, without harming our climate, forest, or water conservation goals.

Some are ideas we have been pushing for years, and we think they deserve our community’s support. Now is a critical moment to add your voice.

Here are 3 ways to show support:

  1. You can appear at the in person meeting at 9:30 am on Tuesday, November 9th at the Lions Club Hall.
  2. Send an email to your LTC rep. Their emails are:
    • Peter Grove: pgrove@islandstrust.bc.ca
    • Peter Luckham: pluckham@islandstrust.bc.ca
    • Laura Patrick: lpatrick@islandstrust.bc.ca
  3. Or better yet you can call your Trustee:
    • Peter Grove: 250-537-1117
    • Peter Luckham: 250-210-2553
    • Laura Patrick: 250-537-6822

Salt Spring Solutions will be at the meeting to voice our support for these recommendations, which, while not going as far as we would like the Trust to go, if actually implemented by staff would indeed start to make an impact.

So what is the Housing Task Force recommending?

The recommendations are reasonable yet meaningful steps the Trust can take relatively easily and quickly, and that won’t negatively impact our water, forest protection, or climate goals.Here is our analysis of the Task Force’s four key recommendations:

Legalize More Secondary Suites

Update the Secondary Suites Bylaw to increase the number of zones, properties and buildings where secondary suites are allowed. The current bylaw primarily allows suites within the North Salt Spring Waterworks District where they are ultimately prohibited by their water Moratorium — rendering the bylaw ineffective in enabling more rentals.

Also, mandate that an alternative supply (such as rainwater) be used where water concerns exist with the community system or aquifers. And finally, ensure secondary suites are only rented as long-term homes.

Allow Year-Round Seasonal Accommodations:

Allow vacation accommodation to be rented as long-term rental homes for locals. This is currently prohibited by the Trust even though it is known that short-term rentals have higher water and waste impacts than long-term rentals to the local workforce. Many property owners have chosen to rent to locals anyways during the pandemic for financial reasons or in recognition of the dire need for local workforce housing. This shouldn’t be illegal.

Freeze Bylaw Enforcement on Illegal Dwellings:

Defer bylaw enforcement on ‘unlawful dwelling’ except those with health and safety or environmental contamination concerns. Maintain the deferral until more safe, legal homes are available. Our fellow islanders living in these homes have nowhere else to go.

Support Affordable Housing Projects with Staff Time:

Develop a more efficient process for reviewing and approving affordable housing, supportive housing and social housing projects. Groups championing housing solutions in line with the Official Community Plan should be fully supported at every step in the process.

Please make a plan to attend the meeting, or send your letter of support today.

We’ll keep you posted as things progress. Thanks for doing your part to move towards solutions to our workforce housing crisis.

Salt Spring Solutions

P.S. The public meeting again: 9:30 am on Tuesday, November 9th at the Lions Club Hall, 103 Bonnet Avenue. (proof of vaccination not necessary, masks mandatory for anyone over 14)

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