Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, supports the supportive housing project coming to Central Saanich, but calls on provincial government to adequately support future residents in face of concerns from community. (Government of British Columbia)

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, supports the supportive housing project coming to Central Saanich, but calls on provincial government to adequately support future residents in face of concerns from community. (Government of British Columbia)

Local MLA Adam Olsen says existing housing policies have worsened housing crisis

Olson supports higher density in North Saanich where appropriate and questions existing land use

Local MLA Adam Olsen said he is not against more development density, when asked about the Official Community Plan review in North Saanich.

“I’m not opposed to more density anywhere, where it makes sense,” he said in a far-ranging interview.

“Take a look at what is happening here in Sidney, where it is close to the bus routes. I think there absolutely needs to be more density. Part of solving the housing crisis is going to be supply.”

When asked whether he favours increased density in North Saanich where it makes sense, Olson answered in the affirmative.

“When you take a look at areas that have services close to buses, areas that are close to where businesses are and where industry is, we absolutely need to look at. If you take a look at the map of North Saanich, there is an awful lot of residential (development) there. Where we are able to facilitate it and where it makes sense, the tool should be there for local government. It doesn’t mean that it happens. It means we facilitate the conversation to be able to happen at the local government level.”

Existing housing policies have not lessened the housing problem, but made it worse, he said.

“There is a lot of privilege in them (land use policies).”

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Housing is not just a supply issue, he said, rather it’s provincial tax policy and job issues, he said.

“We simply cannot continue with the land-settlement patterns that we have had over last 40 to 50 years. On the Saanich Peninsula through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s we were turning prime-A agricultural land into housing developments. But now those houses are $1 million.”

Areas zoned for low-density, single-family housing are creating these outcomes, he said, adding that the provincial government needs to take a serious look at the future of single-family zoning.

“This doesn’t meant that every single-family zoned neighbourhood turns into multi-family zoning,” he said. The presence of services will still determine the density of areas.

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Turning to the Prosser Road supportive housing development currently under construction in Central Saanich, Olsen said all communities need a full range of housing, including supportive, to which he is not opposed.

“But … we have got a community that deserves some answers. I think the attention that was paid to (the project) by the community captured the attention of BC Housing. Mayor (Ryan) Windsor and his council have a good job of articulating his and their expectations as the elected municipal council.”

Ultimately, Olsen favours the supportive housing project coming to the riding, but added he will be paying close attention to the type of supports that the provincial government will be offering to future residents.

“When BC Housing announces the operator, (it must) announce the level of support that people are going to get when they move in.”

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