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RGS Incompatible with Housing Affordability

The CRD is completing a Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) of which their Vision Statement says,

“In 2038, Capital Regional District residents enjoy a healthy and rewarding quality of life. We have a vital economy, livable communities and steward our environment and natural resources with care. Our choices reflect our commitment to collective action on climate change.”

The vision mentions environment, climate change, natural resources and even the economy, but not housing affordability.

A poll by Innovative Research Group asked 600 BC residents to name the most important issue facing the province. Affordable housing was ranked #1, followed by the environment and health care.

The RGS plans to “reduce development pressures in the Saanich Peninsula, rural West Shore, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Growth outside the growth boundary is to be kept to 5% or less of the regional total.”

Major companies in the Peninsula are held back due to a lack of housing affordability for their employees, which may cause the companies to relocate.

Housing variety and affordability are necessary to attract employees in high-tech industries, which are knowledge-based and sustainable – exactly the desirable industries the CRD should be encouraging.

The RGS should be put on hold until completion of a Housing Affordability Strategy identifying housing needs.

Presently, the RGS is incompatible with both housing affordability and strengthening our regional economy. The plan will increase the cost of land and home prices.

We need to first determine a housing strategy to support our future economy, employment and transportation systems.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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