Get rid of barriers to affordable housing

Get rid of barriers to affordable housing

I was disappointed to learn that Habitat for Humanity and the Sooke Lions were not able to proceed with their plan to create affordable housing for Sooke. In the Aug. 29 article, a statement attributed to Al Beddows incorrectly noted that “council wanted to hold off on the process until January next year.”

In fact, council had nothing to do with it. We were expecting the application to come forward at the Aug. 13 meeting, but council never had the opportunity to consider it.

In an email sent to Habitat on Aug. 1, they were told by the District of Sooke “it is better to wait to do first and second reading in September.” The email stated that this would be “a more prudent approach to something that we know is going to be a political issue.”

Upon receiving this email, I was informed that the CEO of Habitat reached out to the mayor on Aug. 3, yet no further action was taken. Who can blame Habitat for not wanting to proceed under these circumstances?

This is a loss for Sooke and a loss for the Lions. I can only imagine the devastation that the 28 families on the pre-qualified wait list must feel as their dreams of affordable housing have been shattered.

A vacant plot of land that has a troubling history as a preferred location for drug and alcohol use could have been transformed into a safe and vibrant community addition of families and green space.

We first heard about this opportunity in a presentation to Sooke council in January. I recall all of council being very enthusiastic about the fact that they were planning on making an application for rezoning to create affordable housing, and I don’t recall hearing one councillor who was opposed to seeing this application move forward as quickly as possible.

I agree with Mr. Beddows that it looks like “Sooke is difficult to do business with.” It’s time for real change to get rid of the delays and barriers to affordable housing in Sooke.

Rick Kasper

Sooke

(Rick Kasper is a Sooke council member)