It’s refreshing when any politician is wise enough to acknowledge that they really don’t know what they’re doing.
That was the case when Coun. Ebony Login and affordable housing committee came to the realization that they were operating in the dark, causing them to approach Sooke district council for funding for a comprehensive study of the question of housing in the municipality.
It’s a move that shouldn’t be viewed in any pejorative light as sometimes it takes more courage to admit one’s inability to solve, or in this case even define, a problem than to blindly stumble forward with ineffectual actions.
Many might think that affordable housing is easy to define and that a needs assessment is a simple matter of studying the community.
All one need do is to start with the idea that every person should have access to shelter and the cost of that shelter shouldn’t put that person at risk of going hungry or being unable to enjoy a basic, dignified life.
Then find a way to do that.
But it’s not that simple.
Proposed solutions that involve long-term government funding have proven to be unsustainable and the building blocks of the ghettos within communities.
Other concepts, including mobile home parks, tiny homes or sprawling apartment complexes have, in some communities at least, caused public opposition and outrage as those who already have homes complain that the character of their communities will be disrupted by the new initiatives.
Throw in the issues associated with providing for the homeless, the challenges of a burgeoning seniors population, and the struggles of the working poor and the entire issue becomes a Gordian Knot without a simple solution of the sort found in that particular legend.
In another bit of sound judgment, the provincial government has put municipalities on notice to gather information regarding their housing situation as a prerequisite for tapping into programs to address the issue.
They are not, it seems, prepared to simply throw money at the problem without some confidence that the funding will have an impact on those struggling to put a roof over their head.
It would be easy to find fault in the actions of Sooke council and the province, accusing them of simply studying the problem to death and not actually doing something to solve the issue.
But, in truth, it’s almost always a good idea to know what you’re building before you start driving nails.