LTC has not yet adopted Housing Needs Assessment recommendations

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, July 24 2018

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee has accepted and published The Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment (HNA), but that does not mean the LTC has adopted the recommendations proposed at the end of the report.

This does not mean they won’t adopt those recommendations at a future date.

David Marlor, It just means that the local trust committee has received the housing needs assessment and is making them available to the public.

It does mean that - for the Gabriola Local Trust Area at least - that the Trust is in compliance with the provincial requirement for local governments to have housing needs reports in place.

Provincial Bill 18, 2018 requires local governments, including local trust committees, adopt housing needs reports, update those reports every five years, and consider those reports when undertaking Official Community Plan text or mapping amendments that relate to housing.

For those local governments which receive and publish an interim housing needs report before Bill 18 comes into force (expected to be sometime later this year) - that interim report is deemed to be the first housing needs report.

But, there is no requirement for the Local Government to immediately adopt recommendations taken from those reports.

The Northern Region HNA, publicly released June 21, 2018, had four recommendations:

1. That each island review their OCP to ensure that there are supportive policies for the development of safe, secure, appropriate, and affordable rental housing.

2. That the Islands Trust promote the ability to enter into Housing Agreements with property owners and not-for-profit organizations to ensure housing remains affordable.

3. That the Local Trust Committees support the efforts of not-for-profit organizations to increase the amount of safe, secure, appropriate, affordable housing on their islands.

4. The Islands Trust and/or the individual Local Trust Committees can consider conducting a local “municipal” census for each island mid-way between federal census years to provide up to date information.

According to the report, there were four consistent challenges across the entire Northern Region of the Islands Trust.

1. Unaffordable relative to income – based on limited employment on the islands, seniors with fixed income and the number of artists and craftspeople, the required rent is more than 30% of the gross income of the potential tenant.

2. Unhealthy conditions – mould, inadequate heat, no potable water, use of outhouses all lead to unhealthy conditions for the tenants.

3. Insecure tenure – because many people rent out their homes when they are not on the islands.

These rentals are either for three to six months, or give the tenant a lease for a year and then “evict” the tenant for reasons of family in the late spring. This often requires the tenants to move often more than once a year. These tenants often have service jobs on the islands and have to spend significant time looking for another place to live.

4. Lack of housing options – most rentals on the islands are full houses, portions of a house, or a cottage or an illegal suite in a house. Often a housing option is an individual placing a mobile home or trailer on someone’s property. This raises concerns of water and sanitary servicing.

In the 2017/18 Fiscal Year budget, Trust Council approved $40,000 to undertake Housing Needs Assessments for Gabriola, Denman, Gambier, Hornby, Lasqueti, and Thetis islands using similar methodology undertaken on a previous Salt Spring housing needs assessment. This work was undertaken by the Local Planning Committee and the final report was submitted to Trust Council in June 2018.

The Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) looks at the population, current housing stock, and present and future housing needs of Gabriola, Hornby, Denman, Thetis, Lasqueti and Gambier and Keats Islands.