Letter: Response to Spero letter in Jan. 20 Sounder

Wednesday, January 27 2021

I wholeheartedly support Tessa Spero’s comments in last week’s Sounder regarding the wonderful ongoing editorial coverage of the Gabriola Housing Society’s (GHS) efforts for the Paisley Affordable Rental Housing project and how the Sounder (Derek) has covered the progress to date.

Further to what Tessa outlined in her letter regarding the possible need for tiny, co-op, eco-village type homes and how to go about getting this off the ground:

Aside from the obvious need of money and generous donations to get any of these off the ground, it takes cooperation and collaboration between local government and municipal jurisdictional entities such as the RDN, Island Trust and our community to make this happen.

If the GHS Paisley project is an example of what hoops they had to go through to get their project to fruition, any of the above housing options will take years to get to the finish line especially getting acceptance by our community.

Overall, I was pleased by the level of acceptance of our community for the Paisley project but also astounded at the amount of opposition, especially post-GHS’s efforts for level of municipal and local governmental approvals.

There is no question that this type of much-needed development needs to be “fast tracked” since the immediate continued need for housing is obvious. Paisley will address “some” of this need but most certainly nowhere near what is, in fact, required on the island.

 We, as Gabriolans, need to accept the fact that if we want to keep operators and staff of our service establishments, keep our small home businesses, and understand what it takes to keep these places open, it is imperative to open our eyes (and perhaps wallets) to do whatever it takes to make this happen.

It is easy to forget that we are extremely fortunate to have so many services on such a small island and when one or several are gone, only then one realizes the need and convenience we enjoyed before they disappeared.

The above housing alternatives such as a combined co-op eco-village of tiny homes (on foundations, not trailers) are certainly a viable option and would make sense for our community. The question is, what will it take to make this happen?

- Finding a suitable location (Lockinvar, North/South Road) close to existing services such as properties in and around the Village (either through generous donation or group purchase).

- Determine rental or market housing, or combination of both.

- Rentals and purchases restricted to Gabriola residents only (market determined by a sliding affordability component, co-op controlled).

- Fast track rezoning of property to accommodate tiny homes, and change (yes change) the OCP. For this to work, rezoning to smaller plots of land are necessary to accommodate tiny homes.

- Centralized rainwater collection and septic systems. Given current technology there is absolutely no reason for this not to work on our island.

- Co-op operated for maintaining common systems thereby sharing the ongoing operational/maintenance costs. (If rental/purchase combined, pro-rated divisions of common services.)

Obviously, the above are high-level bullet items and I fully understand details need to be addressed. However, there is no reason a combined rental/purchase housing option cannot be a reality in our community and I, for one, fully support such efforts.

With local government, municipal and community collaborative engagement, and a full understanding of the chosen alternative, there is absolutely no question that this type of project cannot come to fruition in a timely manner.

Regards,

Marc Herrman