A new survey finds that municipalities across British Columbia are not doing enough to increase the supply of affordable housing (Black Press File)

Vancouver Island residents say municipalities are not moving fast enough on affordable housing

Survey shows British Columbians feel prices remain high because there are not enough housing options

A new survey commissioned by a pro-development group casts doubt about the ability of government to improve the supply of affordable housing on Vancouver Island.

Twenty-four per cent of respondents on Vancouver Island say “housing affordability” has “worsened a lot” thanks to “actions of governments (provincial and municipal) on housing,” according to an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the Urban Development Institute (UDI). The organization describes itself as a “non-profit association of the development industry and its related professions that is non-partisan in its activities.” By way of background, the District of Saanich joined the organization following the 2018 municipal election.

Ipsos conducted the poll between May 7 and 15, 2019, contacting 1,001 adult residents across the province.

Looking at municipal governments specifically, 63 per cent of respondents on Vancouver Island say municipalities are “not doing enough” to encourage more diverse housing options such as duplexes, triplexes, mid-rise apartments or senior living residences.

The survey also finds Vancouver Island respondents want to see improvements to the municipal approval process.

RELATED: Developers could get a break on development cost charges in Saanich

Thirty-seven per cent say they are “strongly” of the opinion that the approval process needs to be fixed, with 34 per cent “somewhat” of the opinion that the approval process needs to be fixed. By way of comparison, only residents in B.C.’s interior and north appear more dissatisfied than residents of Vancouver Island.

These figures are backed up by groups like the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), which has long criticized Saanich for slow processing times. While municipal officials have promised improvements, this promise alone is acknowledgement of VRBA’s broader point. VRBA has also questioned plans by Saanich to raise development cost charges — a plan currently delayed — and introduce a voluntary building code as a tool against climate change.

But this assessment by UDI also comes with a proviso as the question itself suggests a certain framing. Specifically, it asks the following: “In some municipalities it can take up to five years for a housing proposal to be approved. Which of the following is closer to your point of view?”

It then presents two options, which read as follows: “I trust municipalities to go through a proper approval process, and if it takes five years then it takes five years. I think the municipal process is too long and needs to be fixed so that there are more housing options more quickly.”

The statement of “up to five” years likely represents an outlier, and the question itself does not define a timely process, leaving respondents guessing.

This said, the overall survey finds British Columbians remain concerned with house prices and rents, and point to housing diversity as an issue. Three-quarters (74 per cent) agree “home prices and rents remain high because there are too few housing options.”

Agreement with this sentiment is high across all regions of the province, including Vancouver Island (72 per cent).

British Columbians do not see an improvement in housing affordability. Overall, only one-quarter of British Columbians think the number of affordable housing options has increased in the province in the past two years while one-quarter (26 per cent) say the number has stayed the same and nearly half (45 per cent) say the number of affordable options has decreased, with 26 per cent saying by “a lot” and 20 per cent saying by a “little.”

Saanich for its part has promised to improve the supply and diversity of affordable housing.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Six months to Francophone Games, 600 volunteers needed

Online applications open on Jan. 14

Tech consortium invests $25 million into four University of Victoria research projects

Investments come with goal of developing, implement technologies created by Canadians

Organizers seek input for long-awaited Oaklands community garden

Oswald Park Community Garden Design Workshop coming up on Jan. 19

Mass-timber project in Esquimalt switches from condos to rentals

Corvette Landing will now offer rental units in the area

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read