Attainable housing and Potlatch

Editorial

Tuesday, January 17 2017

There is no question Gabriola needs more attainable housing.

And between the Gabriola Housing Society and what the Islands Trust housing project is doing, we are seeing some first steps taken to provide for more housing on Gabriola, long term.

As some have suggested, there may be an opportunity with the proposed Potlatch subdivision to create attainable housing close to Gabriola’s village core.

But taking advantage of such an idea needs fall to someone other than the Islands Trust or proponents of the application.

If we want attainable housing to be included on the proposed subdivision properties - we need to have an organization working to purchase whichever properties it feels are necessary to accomplish attainable housing and take that project on.

The Potlatch developer cannot be expected to be the one to carry attainable housing forward. The LTC can create tools, but does not have the function to run an attainable housing project. The RDN might have more tools, but again, that’s not in it’s mandate.

Handcuffing the developer, or the Trust, on moving the application forward is not the way to achieve attainable housing on any of the proposed properties.

As Trustee Heather O’Sullivan pointed out at this past Thursday’s meeting, there will be an opportunity for people to purchase those properties - like any other on Gabriola - once the subdivision is created. 

At that point, any individual or organization, working with the Trust for zoning purposes, could negotiate with the property owners to purchase properties ideal for an attainable housing project and develop them. 

Worst case, as O’Sullivan pointed out at the LTC meeting, if a project can’t get off the ground, the organization could sell the property back into the market. 

Best case, Gabriola gains attainable housing in the village.

None of this is to say whether the Potlatch proposal should go forward or not. That’s not what this is particular issue is.

But the proposal needs to stand on it’s own legs, and not be tied up with a whole other issue/project like attainable housing.