On Monday, August 12, Saanich proposes to futher encumber market housing projects by sending them to the back of the line over government funded and/or subsidized projects. These projects are subsidized by market housing via housing affordability funds, Property Transfer Tax, GST and more. For decades Saanich has had one of the most obstructive, costly permit processes in the region. They must first demonstrate reasonable efficiency over a period of time before hammering market housing further. Here is our letter to council:
August 9, 2019
Mayor Fred Haynes and Council
District of Saanich
770 Vernon Ave,
Victoria, BC V8X 2W7
Dear Mayor and Council,
VRBA does not support resolution K6 PRIORITIZING DEVELOPMENT APPLICATIONS FOR AFFORDABLE
& RENTAL HOUSING.
First, the resolution focuses on government funded projects and does not recognize affordable market housing that does not meet Saanich’s strict affordability criteria. This ignores a segment of private sector projects and drives up costs for those projects priced between market rates and Saanich’s strict definitions.
Second, Saanich has one of the slowest and most expensive development and permit approval processes in the region. Mayor and Council promised to significantly improve these timelines, which should be proven with data over a legitimate period of time. Instead, Saanich proposes to use its dysfunctional system as a club to add more costs to market housing unless they agree to Saanich’s challenging housing criteria. These criteria include government funded projects subsidized by taxes generated from the market housing you are penalizing. These taxes include housing affordability funds, the Property Transfer Tax and GST.
Saanich’s own report says, “Prioritizing some forms of development applications over others will impact the timeliness with which non-prioritized applications are reviewed and processed by Saanich staff. As with any delays in processing times, this may carry negative financial implications for affected applicants. It should be noted that overall processing times are currently, and will continue to be, largely dependent on the volume and complexity of applications under review at any given time – which is beyond the District’s control given current practices and resourcing levels. Nonetheless, the most likely forms of applications to be impacted, based on the frequency of receipt, will be single-family residential development permit and rezoning applications.”
The report admits there will be “negative financial implications” for market single family permits and rezonings in a process that is already is one of the most challenging and costly in the region.
VRBA recommends improving the existing system with industry consultation and proven data over a legitimate period of time before prioritizing any projects. In fact, if Saanich significantly improves its system, and boosts supply, there may be no prioritization required.
If you require additional information, feel free to contact me.
Casey Edge, Executive Director