EDITORIAL: Housing for all, not just the few

Shelter, like food, water and health care, should be a staple of our existence, not a luxury

You may of heard already: the construction industry on Vancouver Island is in the midst of one of its biggest growth spurts ever, with more than a staggering $16 million spent on building permits in Sooke alone and billions more throughout the rest of the province.

By that same token, you may wonder, why is Sooke, and indeed the rest of the Victoria region and B.C., still dealing with a massive housing problem?

We’d be relieved if it were some inexplicable, hard to believe paradox, but the reality is much simpler: the provincial and federal government are more concerned of who gets to call the shots rather than provide for its people.

Yes, the provincial election is upon us, and of course, with that come the hollow promises: More housing! Hurrah! More health care! Hurrah! More great stuff for everyone!

Reality isn’t that hurrah, though.

B.C., despite its self-titled “economic darling of Canada” is struggling to provide basic shelter for hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants.

What about the hundreds of houses sprouting up all over Vancouver Island every week? You’d think more housing meant better access for people who aren’t among the one per cent… but you’d be wrong.

For perspective, rent on Southern Vancouver Island (where literally billions of dollars are being pumped into property development and construction every year) is one of the highest in Canada.

On average in Sooke, rent prices, even for a decrepit basement suite, will hover between $900 and $1,200 or more, so it’s a sin that Sooke is not absolved of either.

That’s not realistic, not for anyone considering to start a new life here. Life should be more than just paying your rent or your mortgage (many of whom still do, even post-mortem.)

So while we can all hold hands and rejoice in the latest construction boom, let’s also look at how many British Columbians will actually afford to live in these shiny new homes, or worse, how many will slip into bankruptcy trying to get one.

Housing shouldn’t be based on election cycles or politics at all, but on the needs of the people.

Shelter, like food, water and health care, should be a staple of our existence, not a luxury, because at the end of the day, without any of those things, all you’ve got is an empty house that’s of no use to anyone.

 

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