The Myopic Vision of Mr. Attorp…


Def. “myopic” – shortsighted, narrow vision.

That aptly describes Mr. Frants Attorp’s Viewpoint article in the December 12, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood, titled “OCP survey suggested.”

I don’t know when Mr. Attorp moved to Salt Spring, but, I’m going to assume it was sometime after the 2008 OCP review, and, given his viewpoint, it is clear he either hasn’t studied the housing challenges this community faces, or, is in support of a lifestyle-of-the-rich-and-famous version of Salt Spring one hundred years from now.

In 2008, when the Trustees of the day lowered the densities available for amenity zoning from 100 to 40, they cut off the community’s nose to spite its face.

Like Mr. Attorp, those Trustees had not carefully considered the economics of real estate supply and demand as it applies to the future.

However, Mr. Attorp has the benefit of another 11 years of economic history to draw from, but has still failed to grasp reality.

Allow me to spell it out for him, and anyone who at this moment tends to agree with his perspective.

The lowest priced home on Salt Spring right now is $424,500. To qualify to purchase it, let’s say you can scrape together a 5% down payment of $21,225 and Property Purchase Tax $8,490, CMHC mortgage insurance of say $16,000, and closing costs of say $1,000 = $46,715.

Your mortgage will be $403,275, with monthly payments of about $2500.

Great you say, I can afford that because I’m already paying $2500/month in rent….however, now, to qualify under the current federal government lending regulations, you will need to qualify for the mortgage at 2% above prime.

The consequences of that qualification requirement mean you will need to have a combined family income of about $110,000…to purchase the lowest priced home on Salt Spring in December 2019.

Let’s take a look at some other current real estate realities.

The average price of a home for sale on Salt Spring at the moment is $1,025,000.

The median price of a home for sale on Salt Spring at the moment is $850,000…to qualify for a median home, with 5% down, you will need an annual income of about $190,000.

I will take all bets that house prices will be higher 5 years from now.

I’m hoping reality is setting in a bit.

And this is only 2019, not 2119…long after Mr. Attorp has left the planet.

That, in a nutshell should make anyone with a modicum of math skills understand that, unless radical measures are taken, this community as we know it, with the economic diversity which has given us such the cultural mosaic we currently cherish, will DIE…and, that’s what we are currently experiencing…the death of this community as we know it.

We live in arguably one of the nicest places in the world. It will not continue to go unnoticed as Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo continue to develop into multi-level suburbias.

Mr. Attorp’s stated concerns would have us become a naturally gated/moated community of the rich and famous.

As a born and raised Salt Spring Islander, I’m going to continue to call bullshit on that vision…sorry…lack of vision.

The solution to our housing crisis, which is also the solution to creating a vibrant, diverse, sustainable community, requires a significant increase in density to achieve.

Who’s fault is the situation we now find ourselves in? You can lay that at the very entity charged with preserving and protecting this community – the Islands Trust. With the implementation of the Islands Trust Act in 1974, the dynamics of supply and demand were put into effect. The Trust limited the supply, while the demand grew. The population has about quadrupled since the Act came into effect.

While Mr. Attorp suggests Islands Trust Policy Statement may be violated if sufficient number of community housing densities, necessary to preserve and protect the community, are created, his alternative of basically “do-nothing-everything-is-all-right-Jack-because-I-already-can-afford-to-live-here” is, IMO, not only myopic, but, completely self-serving (in that his property value will continue to rise).

Mr. Attorp suggests “a detailed questionnaire (be sent) to every household outlining strategies for dealing with growth, people pressure and the climate crisis, all while emphasizing the limitations of living in a protected area.”

Great, but as well as all of the scare issues being sent to everyone, the challenges of housing, as it relates to the survivability of this community, should also be spelled out.

In essence this would be a vote for your choice of:

(a) Close down all development because we think we are incapable of dealing with issues, in spite of the fact dozens of other communities worldwide have met the same challenges, or

(b) Face our challenges and make the necessary, albeit difficult, changes required to ensure the community does not become another Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Island or Vale, Colorado.

Pick your choice….mine is (b).

Myopic 1


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