LETTER: Oak Bay Lodge should be used to benefit disadvantaged children

Re: Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge.

The future use of Oak Bay Lodge seems obvious considering the growing proportion of disadvantaged children. The 2016 Census found 20 per cent of Canadian children in lone-parent families; 10 per cent in step-families; and 1.4 per cent without parents. The number of children living with a lone father grew 35 per cent since 2001, while those with a lone mother grew five per cent.

These children are disadvantaged through no fault of their own, and their guardians also face heightened challenges. The disadvantages are especially lopsided in places like Oak Bay where low affordability exacerbates economic disparities.

The experiences of children in chronic sub-standard living conditions lead to a spectrum of negative life outcomes. Oak Bay Lodge could and should be used specifically to benefit children in this disadvantaged 30 per cent. The buildings should be renovated (or replaced) for this purpose.

These children and their families live in a silent crisis due to social stigma. Some of the heightened “risks” these children experience are medical. Such a use would thus meet the health and medical criteria of the Capital Regional Hospital District, while the project is marketed as accessible housing.

One key need of these children is easy access to quality schools where they can engage and prepare. Oak Bay Lodge is one block from Willows Elementary and Oak Bay High (and preschool), and an easy walk to Monterey Middle School and others. A large grocery store is two blocks away. Cars would be unnecessary for resident families.

These children also need “low-barrier housing,” but a children-centred solution would not bring homeless people to this neighborhood. It would, however, mitigate the homelessness challenge in Greater Victoria by freeing up more relatively affordable housing west of Oak Bay.

Selection criteria would focus on the needs of children and their families and be handled by qualified staff and partners, including schools. Programs would support education and career development, health and social development, and medical services and supports. The low-bar criteria of BC Housing would not be used. The spaces would instead be filled by children and their families without critical reference to wealth or income other than their ability to pay below-market housing costs.

Outright public ownership of Oak Bay Lodge dictates that any housing use would be offered at rental prices that are lower than market rates, despite renovation or replacement costs. The “housing barrier” at this non-profit facility is thus inherently lower than Oak Bay’s decoupled market prices. Disadvantaged children and their families are the most deserving beneficiaries of this inherently low barrier.

Tom Okey

Victoria

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

Just Posted

Victoria gets new collegiate baseball team, training facility

Golden Tide coach wants to see as many local kids play for the HarbourCats as possible

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

Local MP Elizabeth May likes aspects of throne speech, but questions execution

According to May nobody is as ‘reckless’ as BC’s John Horgan in dismissing snap election

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read