When developers come to Sooke to build a subdivision, they usually enter into a Phased Development Agreement with the District of Sooke. This often takes place when the development is built in phases and it ensures the district gets the amenities from the developer at the start of the build. These can be such things as parks, sidewalks, affordable housing, etc.
What one has to ponder is why hasn’t the district asked for more affordable housing? To date, we believe, there has been only one affordable house built in all of Sooke. There are presently close to 2,000 units in the works in various subdivisions scattered throughout the area.
If only 10 per cent of them were affordable, we would have 200 places for people on modest incomes to purchase. The people who would be buying these homes are young families and seniors, people who can afford a mortgage of $200,000 as opposed to $400,000. This is not subsidized housing for people on income assistance, it is housing that is affordable for people who can afford to buy a home. That is important to know.
There are folks who are taking this housing situation into their own hands with innovative ideas and solutions. Co-op housing and alternative living arrangements are being looked at and these types of situations suit some people.
What Sooke needs to look at is ways to encourage developers to have a social conscience, to give back to the community they are making money in. Sure, flower baskets and sidewalks or roads in their own subdivisions are great, but they only serve the subdivision, not the community. Council needs to provide some direction and perhaps a directive to start getting more affordable homes built.
As stated before, Sooke has the opportunity to become a leader in green initiatives (like solar power initiatives for example) and social housing, but what it needs is the will, the way has already been proven in other areas.