We. Need. Housing.

Editorial

Wednesday, January 13 2021

The affordable housing proposal for Paisley Place will not solve all the housing problems on Gabriola.

It will not help people who are in need of a palliative care facility. Nor will it help those who need assisted living.

Tiny homes.  An eco-village. 

Other kinds of co-operative housing.

Those will likely be needed as well.

But it will help 24 diverse households find more secure housing, housing that doesn’t disappear out from under them.

Critics of the Paisley proposal say it is being rushed through. That the funding timeline is driving the need to get the bylaws approved. 

This is not entirely true.

If there is a quickness of this project, it comes from the need to get these homes built. But there is also the work that has been done in bringing this project to the point of where the Housing Society is applying to the Islands Trust.

This is not a project that just showed up out of the blue.

It’s been years in the making. Quite literally, years. 

The question of whether we need housing on Gabriola has been studied ad nauseum over the past two decades. The Islands Trust. The Gabriola Chamber. Sustainable Gabriola. People for a Healthy Community. The Regional District of Nanaimo. The GHS. There have been so many ‘housing’ studies and surveys done on Gabriola, someone could probably write a PhD paper on the subject of studying housing without actually building any.

The GHS formed in 2013.

They have done public consultation coming into this. There has been public discourse. There have been workshops. Advertised and reported in the Sounder as well as online.

There has been consultation with Islands Trust staff. 

Let’s be very specific - the word there is consultation, not collaboration. - every applicant going into the Trust is just as eligible to ask questions about how to best design an application for success.

The volunteers with the Gabriola Housing Society have walked into this bylaw amendment application process with eyes wide open, and with more data and information, and are better prepared for answering the critics and the Trustees than almost any other applicant in the past decade.

They came prepared.

So while Gabriola has become accustomed to applications - even the ones which seemed simple - taking months, sometimes years, to get through an application process, the work for this one was done ahead of time.

The LTC and GHS aren’t playing speed chess.

The GHS has come prepared.

The Housing Society volunteers have done an amazing job just getting to point they are at. 

Including the land they’ve obtained from EMCON. Land which could just as easily been sold and clearcut (or sold and conserved) at any time since it was subdivided for market in 2006. And this is just one hurdle they have ahead of them.

This is still just the front-loading. This is prep work.

There’s still applications to get funding for affordable housing. 

Regional District of Nanaimo building permits.

Island Health septic permits.

There’s still a tender to take out. Actual construction.

Applications from potential tenants.

The mountain is huge, and the people attempting to scale it are doing it out of certainty that the community has a need for this. We need more housing on Gabriola.

We cannot say that enough. We. Need. More. Housing.

We need to be able to adapt a 24-year-old Official Community Plan to current standards and requirements.

There are no absolutes.

There is the now, the needs of now, and anticipating the positive outcomes that can come from meeting those needs.

For our community, our island, to continue to enjoy the quality of life we have, with a diverse range of demographics, we need more housing.