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LETTER: Affordable housing is not just about density

Arguments that increasing density is the solution to providing workforce housing on the Saanich Peninsula are overly simplistic and will only pit neighbours against development proposals.

Where developments are given increased density in the name of providing affordable housing, the people with the ability to pay more will shut out those who can’t compete.

The Housing Needs Assessment Report that was presented to Sidney council in 2019 recommended three strategies to address the need for affordable housing. These were: strengthen policies and regulations to prioritize needed housing types; strengthen incentives for non-profit and private developers; and develop and strengthen partnerships and coordination.

Sidney council directed that the recommendations of the Housing Needs Assessment be incorporated into the upcoming official community plan. Using density bonusing to achieve more affordable housing is only one mechanism. The province has provided a variety of legislative tools that municipalities can use to try and ensure the provision of affordable housing, but this will likely test the capacity of the town in respect to implementation.

Attracting a younger workforce to live in communities like Sidney will require a comprehensive approach that reaches far beyond affordable housing and will need to provide the quality of life that will be necessary in order to attract them.

The Sidney Community Association will continue to provide information to our membership regarding the need for affordable housing in our community but we will also take a stand where the proposed development results in a density that is incompatible with the neighbourhood.

Dennis Carlsen, president

Sidney Community Association

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