Saanich councillor to bring forward motion to fast-track affordable housing

Saanich councillor to bring forward motion to fast-track affordable housing
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News

After seeing the work the City of Victoria did in implementing a motion to fast-track affordable housing applications, Susan Brice says she intends to bring forward a similar motion to Saanich council.

Brice, a Saanich councillor, says she has been in discussions with Lisa Helps, mayor of Victoria, and when drafting the motion.

The motion Victoria recently passed allows affordable housing projects from non-profit, government or co-op organizations to bypass the public hearing or rezoning process as long as the design is consistent with the city’s Official Community Plan.

In an interview with CHEK News, Brice says she was paying close attention to the work Victoria was doing on this motion.

“This is an issue that I’ve been following Victoria’s lead on and I watched their public hearing,” Brice said. “After that, I realized that this process change could help speed up delivering affordable housing and Victoria has done a lot of the legwork and I figured why not to have Saanich take a look at it and build off that.”

Victoria staff estimate the change will reduce project timelines by nine months.

Brice says another benefit of this would be that it reduces the difference in process between the two municipalities.

“The not-for-profit and government agencies that provide affordable housing operate in a number of different municipalities,” Brice said. “I think if Victoria has a process which Saanich council can approve, and I hope they do that, that will make things more streamlined as agencies move between the municipalities, they’re not going to have to figure out the differences just because of the boundaries.”

Saanich has developed a 10 year plan to improve housing in the municipality called the 2021 Housing Strategy, and Brice says this motion would help achieve the goals outlined in the plan.

A 2020 Housing Needs Assessment for Saanich found the municipality is projected to need an additional 3,049 housing units between 2020 and 2025 in order to keep up with the expected population growth.

Brice says she is bringing forward the motion to the council meeting on April 25.

READ MORE: Victoria council passes motion to accelerate construction of affordable housing


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