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Support Needed for Housing at Public Hearings

Public hearings for housing projects are being dominated by small, vocal anti-development groups, especially in Saanich and Victoria.

They demand low density, significant green space, trees and affordable housing. The problem is the numbers don’t work.

Low density, affordable housing with plenty of green space is not financially viable in the core with some of the highest land prices in North America.

There is a fundamental economic principle at play that green space is still a cost, and must be paid for, usually via density. This is in addition to the many taxes and fees demanded by govt.

Developers undertake extensive community consultations and modify their projects at great expense trying to accommodate demands.

If planning depts decide reasonable efforts and changes have been made, a public hearing is recommended.

On Thursday April 12, Victoria will hold a public hearing for a project located on Fort St.

The developer has created 50% green space, reduced townhomes from 12 to 9, condo units from 94 to 83, and has committed to 10 affordable units in a nearby project.

These changes are insufficient for the anti-development voices, some of whom now say they “don’t want anything.”

This is where common sense must prevail. Council should respect the expertise of professional planning staff and recognize the overall community’s need for housing.

Anti-development groups must not be able to undermine housing projects simply because they are organized and vocal.

The result will be less housing, an eroding property tax base, and a bleak future for generations to come.

If you support housing in our region, take the time to attend these hearings and add your voice.

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This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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