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Small Lots Key to Housing Affordability

The CRD is holding a public workshop this week to address housing affordability.

To provide real solutions, these well-intentioned workshops require key data, such as CMHC’s report on housing starts.

For example, the clear leader in delivering affordable market housing is Langford, posting 404 new homes year-to-date.

In the past couple of years, projects offered 3 bedroom, Built Green homes on small lots for as low as $355,000.

That is an affordable price for our region’s average two-person family income of $80,000.

Contributing to the affordability is Langford’s efficient and predictable development/permit processes.

BC Assessment’s valuation for a sample property is $227,000 for the building, and $131,000 for the land which is 1,403 sq ft.

Now compare Langford’s 404 starts with other CRD communities: Highlands 2; Esquimalt 4; Metchosin 6; View Royal 17; Central Saanich 17; Oak Bay 17; North Saanich 47; Sidney 48; Colwood 60; Saanich 114.

BC Assessment’s valuation for a sample Saanich property is $124,000 for the building and $864,000 for the land which is more than 10,000 sq ft.

Saanich Council recently rejected small lot subdivisions as part of their community plan.

Municipalities’ protection of large lots, far outstripping  the building’s value, is a main contributor to unaffordable housing in the CRD.

Bureaucratic development/permit processes combined with costly demands for amenities add to the burden.

More affordable housing is possible, but only if there is greater acceptance of small lots in community plans and a commitment to efficient processes.

This fundamental shift in thinking is critical to the CRD providing affordable market housing for the future.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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