Local politicians lukewarm on $50-million homeless plan

The proposal may do more harm than good, particularly to local middle-class families.

Victoria city council has backed a plan asking the Capital Regional District to borrow $50 million to house the homeless, but how this will affect Sooke is still unknown.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said more clarity is needed on the proposal.

“When they broke down what the requisition was per household, it’s a bit tough on Sooke residents because it’s another piece added to the cost,” Tait said. “How do they end up breaking it out, and how it all funnels out in the end? I’m not all clear on that.”

The proposal consists of a region-wide levy of $11.18 per household for a duration of 15 years that would ultimately contribute to 367 units of housing for homeless people and “end homelessness in Greater Victoria by 2018.”

But as much as it sounds like a morally-attractive idea, Tait pointed out that the levy would otherwise be detrimental to groups already struggling in the local community.

“There’s always a case to have affordable housing, but would putting a large [housing] facility in Victoria be of benefit to those people in Sooke that are in these situations? No, likely not,” she said.

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan said the problem of housing goes much further uphill than the municipal level.

“The underlining issue here is the absence of appropriate support from the senior levels of government, such as the federal government, who has been out of housing for almost 20 years now, and the provincial government that hasn’t focused on the challenges here on the Island,” he said.

CRD Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks had his doubts too on pushing forward such an initiative without a more thorough consultation.

“As far as I’m concerned, these [homeless people] aren’t necessarily regional people, or even JDF people, or Victoria people, they’re Canadian people, coming from across Canada, so it should be federally-sponsored, or at least, be provincially-sponsored,” he said, adding that he won’t be making any decisions on the subject until he consults with his electoral area ratepayers.

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