A chal­lenge for can­di­dates

Times Colonist - - Comment -

Don Evans of Our Place is chal­leng­ing the re­gion’s may­oral can­di­dates to get se­ri­ous about fight­ing home­less­ness. Let’s see how many of them step up. At a hous­ing fo­rum for can­di­dates this week, Evans urged them to prom­ise that if elected, they would each set aside a par­cel of land in their mu­nic­i­pal­ity for 40 to 50 units of mod­u­lar hous­ing. If that hap­pened in all 13 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, he said, it would all but end home­less­ness.

It hasn’t hap­pened so far. Vic­to­ria has come up with a site for 21 units, and Saanich, with the tent city roam­ing through its ter­ri­tory, of­fered a spot north of the mu­nic­i­pal fire sta­tion, but the province re­jected it as un­suit­able.

Help is avail­able through the province, which is of­fer­ing to build 2,000 units of mod­u­lar hous­ing across B.C. The cap­i­tal re­gion should claim more than 21 of those.

Of course, find­ing the land will take more than prom­ises and good in­ten­tions. A ma­jor rea­son that hous­ing is so ex­pen­sive here is that land can be hard to come by. And not much of it is owned by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Carv­ing out a chunk of pub­lic land is one thing; buy­ing up pri­vate land is an­other — and comes with a hefty price tag. Smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties such as View Royal would be hard pressed to find the space, and drop­ping mod­u­lar houses into parks is a non-starter.

The re­gion is mak­ing progress. The Cap­i­tal Re­gional Dis­trict com­mit­ted $30 mil­lion for so­cial hous­ing, which the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments matched.

With an elec­tion a week away, can­di­dates might be moved to take up Evans’s chal­lenge.

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