Trust Candidates Q&A: Housing Review Project

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, September 26 2018

In June of 2018, the current Trustees put forward eight items (pasted at bottom of story) to be worked on as part of the second phase of the Housing Review Project.

Given that the next LTC will be the one to either carry the project forward or not, the four candidates running for the two Trustee positions were asked what their priorities would be, given this list from the current LTC. Would they carry the project into a second phase? And if so, what would their priorities be out of these activities - or would they have other housing priorities?

Candidates were provided the project charter, as well as the agenda and minutes of the June 2018 LTC meeting to be able to formulate their responses.

Erik Johnson: I’ve had a chance to read the Trust’s minutes, and having attended some of the meetings concerning our housing issues, I think I know where the Trustees were going with their overall plan. 

And considering that they were duly elected and very focused on the issue, I think we need to go ahead with further discussion with the project into the second phase, but without carrying forward any conclusions until the new Trustees have had a chance to review and engage with all islanders. I may not agree with the “any or all” solutions put forward as yet, but the housing issue will not go away by ignoring it. The answers won’t come without the entire community having a say, and I would like to see the newly elected Trustees make the decision-making process more transparent and accessible to all our stakeholders. We need to do whatever it takes to come up with pragmatic solutions to a problem that haunts so much of our society.

Railroading through a plan that divides the community further is in no one’s best interest, including those who need our help. 

None of us can consider election to office a mandate.

Scott Colbourne: Yes, to keeping calm and carrying on. We’re part of a broader housing stress test and people here are under intense pressure to secure homes where they can age in place and get care, homes to raise children in, and homes to return to after a good day’s work. We do not need new market housing, properties that go to the highest bidder, so this list of priorities is on track. I would add cooperative housing models, a Village Core focus to build on the work of Village Vision, and move e) up the list: It minimizes our footprint to add housing options where there is existing infrastructure such as roads, water and septic. The item immediately under this list in the June agenda was about water resources. Where we live has to be linked to how we reduce our impact — and stress levels — on these islands.

Dave Neads: All of these issues are part of the same problem: the current affordable housing crisis we have here on Gabriola. The short answer is that all of these need to be part of the second phase review, which I wholeheartedly support going forward.

It is time to formulate the amendments and get the process into high gear. It is disingenuous to say that the community groups here on Gabe are not ready to move, they are. The issue is to have the amendments crafted and put out for discussion, review and approval as fast as possible. How quickly can the Trust and the RDN implement the new changes in a way consistent with the legal processes of OCP revision? This is the urgent priority taking the time, making the serious effort and having the tenacity to move through the stages to approval. There is no quick fix, just plain hard work.

Kees Langereis: Yes. Phase 2 of the Housing Options Review Project has three primary objectives. 1: Developing policies and a legislative framework for multi-family affordable housing (i.e. housing projects subject to housing agreements setting out operating parameters). 2: Reviewing the current single-family affordable housing policy (i.e. secondary suites on lots five acres or larger). 3: Exploring the feasibility of allowing secondary suites above accessory buildings on agriculture lands. 

My initial priorities are activities (a) to (c), but only focused on the multi-family affordable housing objective.

My reasons:

Activity (a) establishes the development of a coherent OCP policy framework for accessible, affordable housing.

Activity (c) establishes partnerships with the RDN, Island Health and community groups.

Activity (b) establishes the definitions to determine the intended households. 

The other activities (d) to (h) could then be considered within the framework of a coherent policy.

There are three editions of the Sounder left prior to the October 20 General Voting Day. To have a question posed to the candidates through the Sounder, email it to derek@soundernews.com.

Keep questions focused on topics specific to jurisdiction of the position being run for by the candidates.

There will be an All-Candidates Forum hosted by the Gabriola Ratepayers on October 13, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Gabriola Island Community Hall. All candidates running in the Gabriola-specific elections have confirmed they will be in attendance for that forum.

Current priorities of Phase 2 of the Housing Review Project

a) Review Official Community Plan policies respecting affordable and attainable housing, rental housing, seniors housing and special needs housing, and policies relating to social needs, social well-being and social development;

b) Consider the definitions of ‘affordable housing’ and ‘attainable housing’ in the Official Community Plan;

c) Explore opportunities to foster affordable, rental, seniors and special needs housing and associated services on Gabriola Island in collaboration with the Regional District of Nanaimo, health and housing service providers and community groups;

d) Review provisions for secondary suites above existing farm buildings in the Agricultural Land Reserve;

e) Consider opportunities for secondary suites on lots smaller than 2 hectares;

f) Consider an Official Community Plan designation for multi-dwelling housing;

g) Consider Official Community Plan density provisions for multi-dwelling housing;

h) Consider opportunities for mixed use buildings.