Studied to Death…(and just one more comment about water availability.)

The issue of affordable housing has now literally been studied to death, with the last “affordable” (as per Islands Trust definition <$270,000) home on Salt Spring having been sold recently.

Over two dozen studies over about 30 years have been done on the subject. That would be a significant number of studies if they were talking about BC in general, but, I’m talking about Salt Spring and the Islands Trust Area.

The issue is now a joke…a bad joke…but a joke nonetheless. As real estate AND construction prices rise, both the Provincial and local government bureaucrats have failed to realize the magnitude of the issue, let alone address it sensibly.

The latest report that only 71 rental units of some 1500 planned have been completed Province wide because of delays (read regulations, red tape, lack of funding, etc.) only underscores the ridiculousness of government trying to fix what amounts to a market problem.

If the Province really wanted to “fix” the problem it would hire someone like Jimmy Pattison to set up a 3 person panel to administer funding to projects on a commercial appraisal basis. Have the proponent get a commercial appraiser to give an end value on a project and lend money based on an insured mortgage basis at the lowest possible interest rate the Province can get. Cut through the red tape.

On a local level, the Islands Trust should make blanket rezoning changes to allow affordable housing, instead of the one by one, death by a thousand rezonings process that currently plagues progress and infuriates each neighbourhood as the NIMBY card is played, usually by someone who has moved here in the last 20 years.

Its not good enough. It’s 2019 and planning for community housing should have started in 1974 with the passage of the Islands Trust Act. They have had 45 years to come up with a plan dealing with the effects of limiting a commodity in an area of high demand.

And While I’ve Got Your Ear, One More Comment About Availability of Water (in My Continuing Comments About Water)

The Islands Trust should get out of the water business entirely.

Remove ALL requirements for water servicing from the Land Use Bylaw and OCP, and replace them with a very simple covenant required to be placed on title at the time of rezoning or subdivision – “All buildings which require to be serviced by water must either prove availability of water from a source of water at a rate equal to or greater than the equivalent of a rainfall catchment area of 1500 square feet, with sufficient storage, if necessary, to meet BC Building Code requirements.” Period. Stop.

If a property owner can’t meet Building Code water requirements without building a rainwater catchment system (e.g. well, water system) then they have to build a catchment system to obtain their permit to build.

I repeat – The time to prove availability of water is not at rezoning, or even subdivision, but at the time of  building permit application.

A recent subdivision of an entire small island was approved on that basis by the CRD. All lots have rainwater catchment covenants on them because THERE WAS NO WATER ON THE ISLAND. You want to build on one of the lots you MUST submit your rainwater catchment plans with your permit application.

The idea that Islands Trust requirements for water somehow magically guarantee water will still be available in 20 years from now on any particular property isn’t a bet I would take. An earthquake could kill a well or a forest fire could result in sedimentation of the Maxwell watershed making the entire water system servicing Ganges unusable.

However, I would bet that 20 years from now it will still be raining here, and, that desalination will be as cost effective per gallon as any other source of water.

No one is going to die from dehydration here. Ditch the water requirements.

The next time someone tells you Salt Spring has a water problem put on your best shocked look and exclaim to them, “Oh my God…Did it stop raining at your place? Where do you live? How are you still alive? Can I get you some water?”

And yes, I know how sarcastic that sounds, but, there are still those who actually believe Salt Spring has a water problem. If you are one of them, I urge you to stand out in the rain for an hour or so and contemplate the above. The truth may just soak in.




One Response to Studied to Death…(and just one more comment about water availability.)

  1. Paul MArcano says:

    Although I think Pattison would likely consider ‘$270,000’ chump change for a house and seriously grapple with the definition of ‘affordable’, most of your other comments make sense re: water abundance and the OCP, the Trust should never have been allowed to self-expand their mandate to water among a million other things. In an unincorporated district, there are essentially no legislative boundaries to this ideological cult, no containing their budgets for ‘studies on studies on studies’ ad nauseam. 45 years later and $130,000,000 million-plus spent so far, it is quite a mandate to preserve and protect by ‘not doing’; a pretty sweetheart model for a bureaucracy as one could ever have dreamed up.

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