Time for Gabriola to talk housing

Editorial

Tuesday, April 4 2017

The density transfer application is past third reading. While this doesn’t mean it is now bunch of rubber stamping before it is approved and going ahead, there will be some ‘breathing room’ for island discussions to perhaps turn to other issues.

Like housing. The need for housing inventory on Gabriola at almost every level in the financial spectrum. We’re not talking just the couch-surfers and people camping in the woods. We’re talking people - families - with full-time jobs, who are finding themselves pushed off Gabriola for the lack of housing.

Islanders were requesting there be some form of affordable housing forced in to the Potlatch application - but as pointed out at the public hearing, the failure to have that included is not on the applicants, but on the Gabrola Official Community Plan requirements.

Maybe it is time to open the door to allowing developers to make deals for things other than parks or cash-in-lieu. Maybe we do need to start talking about multi-family housing for islanders who aren’t seniors or special needs. Village Vision and Sustainable Gabriola have certainly heard through their workshops that there are creative ways of making housing possible.

The Local Trust Committee is taking the first steps. They are going after the low hanging fruit. Allowing secondary suites - in a variety of combination - is a solid first step. At least people renovating or building new on properties over 5 acres can do so in a way that plans out a secondary home beyond a detached cottage. 

But there is a phase 2 coming in housing strategies, and we’re going to have some tougher conversations about what we’re willing to give - take - and become part - of what we call Gabriola.