Oak Bay will have Mayor Nils Jensen pen a letter to the premier and the ministers responsible for Housing and Finance asking they make changes to remove regulatory and financial barriers to the University of Victoria and other post-secondary institutions increasing the supply of student housing.
Copies will be sent to UVic, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, the mayors of Saanich and Victoria, the Capital Regional District board chair and local MLAs.
As Oak Bay liaison with UVic, Coun. Tom Croft put the letter on the table during council Monday night. The concept started with fellow liaison, Saanich Coun. Fred Haynes, Croft said. But it was easy to support and not just because Oak Bay and Saanich share the UVic campus.
“We have a housing crisis everywhere,” he said. “People in many ways are being taken advantage of by landlords.”
Oak Bay shut down a home in Henderson that housed nine students this year after the tenants themselves complained, Croft said.
Haynes told Saanich council that the University of Victoria has the capital reserves ready to build student housing, and that while Camosun College doesn’t, it, like UVic, has a desire to build a residence.
He also asked to request a meeting with the premier and her ministers to discuss the matter.
“We know the problem is one of debt,” Haynes said. “We need policy re-written that a university in B.C. can borrow money without it reflecting as a provincial debt.”
It’s an easy solution that brings relief to the pressures of the housing market and the .06 per cent vacancy rate in Saanich, Haynes added.
Saanich council voted in favour to make the letters happen, despite some skepticism.
“If UVic wants this why don’t they come to us and ask for our support, I don’t see them here,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff.
Haynes plans to bring the motion to seek support at the Union of BC Municipalities convention later this month. Should the motion make the floor, Coun. Michelle Kirby will speak to it on behalf of Oak Bay as Croft will be out of town.
The UBCM is Sept. 26 to 30 in Victoria.
– with files from Travis Paterson/Saanich News