Like everywhere in BC and Canada, too many people in Esquimalt are struggling to find affordable accommodation. Too many families and individuals are having to leave Esquimalt because they are unable to find housing that meets their needs and/or income levels. While affordable housing is largely a provincial and federal jurisdiction, there is a lot Esquimalt can do to help make housing more affordable.
I’d like Esquimalt to:
- Prioritize housing development that meet affordable housing goals, including providing deeply affordable units and units suitable for working families, people on disability assistance and seniors on limited incomes.
- Create clearer guidelines and expectations for new developments, especially for townhouses and smaller (4-10 unit) developments. Right now, our OCP is ambiguous: a developer can honestly state that their project is “fully compliant with our OCP” while a resident can read the same OCP and declare that it is “absolutely non-compliant”. This creates needless conflict in our community.
- Streamline development processes so that more decisions can be delegated to staff: not every Accessory Dwelling unit (backyard coach house) needs to be reviewed by advisory committees and go to full public hearing. This adds unnecessary costs and complexities to property owners with little benefit if well-drafted guidelines are in place.
- Actively work with non-profit housing providers, provincial and federal housing agencies and funders to attract new non-market housing to Esquimalt.
- Review the previous decision not to charge typical fees to developers for large developments. We are one of the only municipalities in the CRD does not have a formal policy to collect fees for amenities like parkland acquisition or affordable housing. While the decision not to collect fees may have made sense while Esquimalt was trying to attract development after years of stagnant growth, it’s clear that Esquimalt has now been “discovered.” Exemptions can and should be made for developments that provide public benefits and amenities to the township such as affordable housing, helping meet climate goals or creating public plazas and/or spaces.
- Continue to review parking minimums to ensure that we aren’t prioritizing building parking spaces over housing units.