Working poor need more council support

A few years ago, I sat through a meeting where Victoria City Council declared the lack of affordable rental housing a state of emergency.

A  few years ago, I sat through a meeting where Victoria City Council declared The Capital’s lack of affordable rental housing an official state of emergency. While this emergency may not quite be on par with the earthquake we’ve been assured will engulf our city at any minute, anyone browsing the rental listings for a bachelor suite that costs less than three quarters of a month’s pay is acutely aware of the growing gulf between Victoria’s average income and the average rent.

After a presentation from the Community Social Planning Council on its report Affordable Housing for BC’s Capital Region: Tools for the Future was postponed at last week’s council meeting, now seems like as good a time as any to examine how the region’s municipalities have progressed.

The core of the CSPC’s report revolves around a set of almost two dozen recommendations. Some are old (develop a regional housing strategy), some are new (create a community investment fund) and some (lobby senior governments for more cash) are quickly entering the realm of fantasy for municipalities who, like Prometheus, have been left stranded by their superiors to be slowly eaten alive.

The report also provides an overview of how each municipality measures up to some 50 options for encouraging affordable housing. Victoria and, perhaps surprisingly, Langford are clear winners, each with about three-quarters of the available options either adopted or considered. Colwood, North Saanich and Oak Bay tie for a decisive last, each with 0/50. The bottom three are closely followed by View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands and Juan De Fuca, with only a handful of points between the four.

Despite a few notable exceptions, the report reveals that our region has largely gotten away with the bare minimum when it comes to supporting the development and maintenance of affordable housing. Of 14 local governments, only Esquimalt has bothered with standards of maintenance bylaws, and only a handful have even considered supporting non-profit agencies that attempt to provide affordable housing.

When I called a friend for the benefit of his decades of experience in rental advocacy, his assessment of the CSPC’s report was simply, “it’s good stuff, but will probably be ignored.” For the sake of The Capital’s growing legions of working poor, let’s hope he’s wrong. M

Just Posted

Roller skating fever taking over Greater Victoria

Roller Skate Victoria offers workshops, summer camps and more

Learn about a life of luxury at Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House

New political exhibit part of grand reopening at the House this weekend, July 20-21

World of electronic musical wonders await at long weekend festival

Wonderment ambient/downtempo music festival slips into bridge plaza, Banfield Park Aug. 3-4

Solid foundation key to Charles Porlier’s longevity as a TV/film makeup artist

Learn to KRE8 from experts in the world of makeup, voice acting, animation and more, Aug. 9-18

A passing of the torch for Victoria’s rock music history archives

Royal City Music Project co-founder Glenn Parfitt wants valuable cultural material preserved

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Fashionable ode to the sea goes Friday at Fort Common

Local sustainable fashion retailers to strut their latest as part of ocean conservation fundraiser

Brentwood Bay brings $5 concerts every Wednesday evening

Variety of music on offer: picnics, good vibes and family friendly

Schitt’s Creek and its stars among Canadians with Emmy nominations

Co-creator Eugene Levy thought they had chance for one nomination, ‘then they kept rolling in’

Most Read