Housing Density

       Housing Policy in North Saanich

Since the last election in 2011, property development and a drive for higher density housing have been a priority in the  Municipality.

Some background information follows:
Affordable Housing?

[With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association Heronwatch October 2013 for some of these figures.  To access additional information, visit their website at www.northsaanichresidentsassociation.ca]

Suggested price range for affordable or attainable housing (according to realtors, industry group, workers and developers) as indicated in the CTQ consultant’s report:
   For a 3 bedroom home:  $300,000 – 425,000
   For an apartment or townhouse:  less than $300,000

Percentage of proposed new units priced above this price range:  87%

Percentage of potential new housing units less than $425,000:  13%

Number of potential new housing units less than $380,000:  0%

Household income required annually to be able to afford housing in the $300,000 to 425,000 price range:  $80,000 to 100,000

Percentage of local Industrial Group employees earning less than $80,000*:  56%

Percentage of Industrial Group employees who indicated interest in purchasing a single family home with a suite in the range of $400 - $450K*:  13%

Percentage of Industrial Group employees who commute between 30-50 minutes each day* (15 – 25 minutes each way):  35%

Percentage of Industrial Group employees who commute less than 30 minutes each day* (less than 15 minutes each way):  50%

Percentage of North Saanich properties assessed between $400,000 and $500,000 in 2012:  8%

Price range for homes with potential for a suite in Canora Mews:  $525,000 – $545,000

Range of home sizes in Canora Mews: 1400 to 2400 sq. ft.

Number of potential new units proposed to be built in NS as of June 17, 2013:   387

Number of times Mayor Finall, or Councillors McMurphy or Stock have made a motion to create an affordable housing policy in North Saanich (as of February 3, 2014):  7 times

Percentage of times this motion has been defeated by Coun. Daly, Browne, Mearns and McBride:  100 %

[* source: Sidney North Saanich Industrial Group Survey]

Efforts to Create Affordable Housing Policy in North Saanich 

This is a record of the recorded motions relating to the creation of affordable or 
workforce housing and/or related policy to achieve that goal.  The minutes do not reflect discussions where the issue was raised but no motion made. 

We would like to draw attention to the fact that all motions to create affordable 
housing or policy around it were moved and/or seconded by Finall, McMurphy or Stock, and always defeated by the voting bloc of Browne, McBride, Mearns and Daly. 

1. May 14/12- COW (Committee of the Whole):  Motion by McMurphy: 

86 COW  "That Staff provide a report on potential arrangements with the Sidney/NS 
business community that support the provision of workforce housing". 

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed. 

2.  August 20/12 - COW: subsidiary motion by Mayor Finall: 

152 COW  "That Council requires a cash-in-lieu amenity package in the amount of $185,000 for use toward affordable housing projects that service North 

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed. 

3.  July 15/13 - COW: Council accepted amended Strategic Plan.   
Mayor opposed due to no provision for affordable housing. 

4.  September 9/13 - Council:  Motion by McMurphy, seconded by Stock: 

363  "That Council adopt policies and conditions for granting higher densities in 
return for the provision of affordable housing (as provided for in the Local 
Government Act) as a first step in the development of a comprehensive action 
plan to addressing housing needs in the District of North Saanich".   

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed. 

5.  November 28/13 - COW Strategic Plan meeting:  Motion by Mayor 

542 COW  "That Council approves the amended 2013 – 2015 Strategic Plan and the priority of item 37 [affordable/workforce housing policy] be changed from Long Term to Short Term."  

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed. 

6.  December 16/13  Subsidiary motion by McMurphy/2nd Stock:  "That the 
motion to adopt [2013 – 2015 Strategic Plan] be amended to add ‘and the priority of item 37: develop and implement an affordable housing and workforce housing policy be 
changed from Long Term to Urgent.”   

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed. 

7.  Feb. 3, 2014  Motion by McMurphy/2nd Stock:  "That Staff be directed to 
prepare a report on the CRD affordable housing bylaw when it is developed as part of the development of the District of North Saanich Affordable Housing and Workforce Housing policy.”         

Defeated:  Daly, Browne, McBride, Mearns opposed.

Application to CRD for Change of North Saanich Regional Context Statement

Moved to the RCS Amentments page . . . .

Work/Live Flow Pairs

Work/Live Flow Pairs show the commuting patterns of workers:  where they live in comparison to where they work.  Studying these patterns gives us a clear idea of how many people are commuting, and how far their commute is.  [Source:  CRD 2006 Census]

Number of Workers Who Work in North Saanich:

And Live in: Sidney        385
                        Victoria                      355
                        Oak Bay                    40
                        Central Saanich          400
                        North Saanich             615 (work in municipality)
                        North Saanich             795 (work at home)
                        Highlands                    20
                        South Gulf Islands        20
                        East Saanich               45
                        Langford                      90
                        Colwood                      85
                        Esquimalt                    135
                        Saanich                       615

Total Workers Who Work in North Saanich    3600

Number of Workers Who Live in North Saanich:

And Work in:     Sidney                         1070
                        Victoria                        825
                        Oak Bay                       85
                        Central Saanich            405
                        North Saanich               615 (work in municipality)
                        North Saanich               795 (work at home)
                        Highlands                     0
                        South Gulf Islands        0
                        East Saanich                20
                        Langford                       60
                        Colwood                       20
                        Esquimalt                     60
                        Saanich                       520

            Total Workers Who Live in North Saanich     4475

            Workers Who LIVE in NS Minus Workers Who Work in NS:

                  4475 – 3600 = 875 more Workers who LIVE in NS than WORK in NS

For comparison, here are the Work/Live Flow Pairs for Sidney:

Number of Workers Who Work in Sidney:

And Live in:       Victoria                      385
                        Oak Bay                    50
                        Esquimalt                  80
                        South Gulf Islands      20
                        Salt Spring                 20
                        Sidney                     1430 (work in municipality)
                        Sidney                      470 (work at home)
                        View Royal                30
                        Juan de Fuca            25
                        East Saanich             50
                        Colwood                    65
                        Langford                   145
                        Central Saanich         615
                        Saanich                     845
                        North Saanich           1070

            Total Workers Who Work in Sidney                5300

Number of Workers Who Live in Sidney:

And Work in:     Victoria         705
                        Oak Bay                     80
                        Esquimalt                   95
                        South Gulf Islands      30
                        Salt Spring                 20
                        Sidney                      1430 (work in municipality)
                        Sidney                      470 (work at home)
                        View Royal                 30
                        Juan de Fuca              0
                        East Saanich              0
                        Colwood                     0
                        Langford                     45
                        Central Saanich         440
                        Saanich                    370
                        North Saanich           385

            Total Workers Who Live in Sidney                 4100

Workers who WORK in Sidney Minus Workers who LIVE in Sidney:

5300 – 4100 = 1200 more Workers who WORK in Sidney than LIVE in Sidney                   

Conclusions that can be drawn from this:

1)  North Saanich houses more workers than it employs (not vice versa, as the Industry Group and the high-density proponents claim).  Sidney houses fewer workers than it employs.

2)  Higher density housing (as in Sidney) does not guarantee housing for more workers, and will not stop commuting from other districts.

3)  People use a broad variety of factors to decide where they will live.

CRD North Saanich Population Projections 2014 to 2019

CRD Planning has provided population figures.  They inform us that these projections are based upon the August 2009 Urban Futures Report “Context for Change Management in the Capital Regional District” (the Report).

The population projections are:

Population 2014 – 12,300
Population 2019 – 13,548

There are two areas of concern regarding the projections, as follows:

The rate of population growth in North Saanich projected over the 5 year period 2014 to 2019 based on the above figures is 11%. Based on the 2006 and 2011 Census Data this would be almost double the growth rate for the 10-year period 2001 to 2011 and would be 3 to 4 times higher than the previous five-year periods 2001 to 2006 and 2006 to 2011 again established by Census data.

The second problem is reconciling the above population numbers with established Census figures. There may be a simple explanation for this. According to “Municipal Allocations – Table 8” on page 51 of the Report, municipal population allocations include adjacent First Nations Reserves.  This would explain the Report’s North Saanich 2008 population estimate of 11,795 compared with the much lower actual 2011 Census figure of 11,089. There are no First Nation Reserves included within our municipal boundaries; the adjoining Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nation Reserve Lands are outside the municipal land boundaries of North Saanich.  

Census data confirms that the population growth in North Saanich from 2001 to 2006 was 3.7% and from 2006 to 2011 was 2.5%.   Interestingly this 10-year trend of steady but modest population growth was similar to the other peninsula municipalities, Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney, as the following census figures show:

Population % increases (2006 and 2011 Census):

2001 – 2006:  North Saanich 3.7%, Sidney 3.5%, Central Saanich 2.6%, Saanich 4.4%

2006 – 2011:  North Saanich 2.5%, Sidney minus1.2%, Central Saanich 1.2%, Saanich 1.4%

The CRD Demographic fact sheet entitled Estimates of Population Growth Capital Region dated August 2013 shows the 2011 Census figures for the District of North Saanich and the adjacent First Nation Reserves separately.  The CRD North Saanich population estimate for 2013 in this fact sheet is 11,464.  This reflects estimated population growth over the two years since the 2011 census of about 3.3%, a higher rate than the previous 10-year growth experience but useful as a projection.

The 12,300 projection for 2014 would mean a further one year increase of 7.3% over the CRD 2013 Fact sheet projection. Additionally, the 2019 projection of 13,548 would be a population increase of over 22% in 8 years from the 2011 Census baseline, compared to the 6.2% total increase for the 10 years from 2001 – 2011 based on census data. There is a clear conflict between the North Saanich Census population figures and those extrapolated from the 2009 Urban Futures Report most likely explained by the fact the Report is including First Nations populations in with North Saanich figures.

A Context for Change Management in the Capital Regional District.  Future Population, Labour Force, Employment and Housing in the [CRD]

Urban Futures - Change Management in the CRD, July 2009

North Saanich Consultant Wants More

By Steven Heywood - Peninsula News Review, Feb 12, 2014

North Saanich council will consider paying a consultant nearly double the original price for work on their housing strategy and at the same time essentially shelved the consultant’s report until further notice.

A majority of councillors voted Feb. 3 to ratify an earlier decision to consider paying Ed Grifone of CTQ Consltants Ltd. an estimated $68,595 for the District’s housing strategy implementation plan. That’s $29,595 more than an earlier agreed-upon price of $39,000 — and well above the original contract of only $19,000 set in late 2012.

Council had agreed on the jump from $19,000 to $39,000 following Grifone’s first meeting in early 2013 with staff and council and the realization the project would be more involved than initially thought.

Grifone, in a Dec. 13 letter to council, said the complexity of the assignment pushed his costs to more than $68,000.

Council has decided to consider this increase as long as Grifone supplies an itemized and detailed account of additional services over and above the original terms of reference. Council also voted to only do so if Grifone turns over his raw data from the housing plan. This was approved Feb. 3 in a 4-3 vote.

Council has also asked Grifone to return to give a presentation to council on either Feb. 24 or April 14, and pay him an hourly rate of $170, plus expenses. The consultant had been to council to speak to his work in August, 2013 but that meeting was cut short when Councillors Dunstan Browne and Conny McBride walked out in protest of questions levelled at Grifone from Mayor Alice Finall, Coun. Elsie McMurphy and various citizens.

“It was very unfortunate that your meeting of Aug. 19, 2013 ended so abruptly when I was prepared to address all matters related to the project,” Grifone stated in his Dec. 13 letter.

“We cannot begin to understand the politics of your community. However, we are professionals and we have no reservations about returning to North Saanich to explain our findings…”

Some residents are blaming the council for not hearing out Grifone when he was in the community and are now faced with even more costs association to this project.

“CTQ did come to address council and councillors walked out,” said Lorrene Soellner, a resident and outspoken critic of the council majority. “No debate was even allowed then.”

Coun. Ted Daly noted during the debate that if he was Mr. Grifone, he wouldn’t come back to North Saanich.

Consultant’s report approved, but shelved

North Saanich’s council majority seems to think it got what it wanted out of the CTQ Consultants report on housing in the district for now and have voted to take no further action on it.

On Feb. 3, Coun. Dunstan Browne amended a motion to approve the report in principle subject to changes council may wish to make — adding that staff is not required to take any further action.

Mayor Alice Finall and Coun. Elsie McMurphy called the motion irrational and beyond understanding.

“I am against this,” said McMurphy. “There has been no wide consultation on (the report) in the community. And council has already adopted some things contrary to what’s in the report. It’s a contradiction.”

She also wondered about council stating it can change the consultant’s work.

“I’m worried council would adopt this without consultation or a clear understanding of the issues within it,” added Finall, repeating her call for an affordable housing strategy and even a full review of North Saanich’s official community plan in the wake of the consultant’s findings.

North Saanich chief administrative officer Rob Buchan said council already accepted the consultant’s report in the fall of 2013 and at the same time, accepted two recommended areas for housing growth — the McTavish Road area and land along McDonald Park Road. Buchan said council at that time directed staff to proceed with developing policy on those areas.

“What we don’t know,” he continued, “is what council wants staff to do with (the rest) of the report.”

“What this means,” Browne said, “is we’ll tell (staff) what to do. Right now, there’s nothing more to do.”

The motion passed, 4-3.

District eyes more growth in 2014
by  Steven Heywood - Peninsula News Review
posted Jan 3, 2014

A limit of  up to 520 new housing units in North Saanich has been established in the District’s revised Regional Context Statement (RCS) that will be forwarded to the Capital Regional District for their ratification.

A majority of council approved the new RCS in the middle of last month, confirming plans for increased allowances for residential housing in two parts of the community — the McTavish Road area and around Tsehum Harbour. Those areas were identified as likely spots for more development out of the District’s 2013 housing consultation process with CTQ Consultants out of Kelowna. Projects such as Canora Mews have broken ground, with others in the early application steps.

North Saanich is now asking the CRD to approve their plan for increased residential development in those areas and at an increased pace.

The change has been a priority for the council majority this term, having stated market-driven growth will help address housing shortages among the local workforce.

A minority of North Saanich council, led by Mayor Alice Finall, says that tack does nothing to address affordable housing for those same workers.

“I have been asking for (an affordable housing policy) to be put in place,” Finall said. “There needs to be something like that in North Saanich to ensure developers are providing affordable housing.”

Her position, she agrees, is different than that of the council majority. She said they are hoping increased housing density at market prices will solve the issue. Finall said, however, that homes at market price will still be too high for many workers to afford. She called the drive for change led by developer demand.

Council has debated these positions throughout their term, with clear lines drawn between the two sides and among the community.

While the mayor says the District’s previous RCS allowed for such growth, Councillor Dunstan Browne said if the municipality did what the mayor wants, it would “blow the industrial folks out of the water.”

A collection of local industry employers has lobbied for increased housing development to meet the needs of its workforce. They have met with local municipalities, seeking policy that would help create more affordable homes and allow people to live closer to their jobs.

Coun. Ted Daly challenged Finall’s position once again, stating there’s a need for market housing.

“You’re wrong, Madame Mayor,” Daly stated at council’s Dec. 16 meeting. “There is a demand and the reason we’re not seeing it is North Saanich isn’t building anything.”

Forty units are in the works at 9395 East Saanich Rd. (Canora Mews), with an estimated 95 (not including secondary suites or laneway housing options) in the Reay Creek Meadows proposal on land south of Sidney’s Summergate Village. Another three condominium buildings are proposed for McDonald Park Road, next to Parkland Secondary School.

North Saanich staff will be working on a visual representation of the District’s new growth plans in 2014.

Housing changes no secret

By  Steven Heywood - Peninsula News Review
posted Feb 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM

It’s no secret North Saanich district councillors are split over the future of housing development in their municipality and  Mayor Alice Finall and her supporters want to ensure the size and scope  of this change is not a secret to the residents.

Council began the steps to change the District’s regional  context statement bylaw on Feb. 3. This process will increase the amount of land within the municipality that will be open to more housing  development at increased densities. It’s a move that the opponents of the mayor say has been a long time coming. It has also been the subject of the controversial housing implementation plan started by the municipality in 2012 to explore the need for growth in the wake of increased development pressure.

“These plans (for housing) on our borders with Sidney will be embraced,” says Councillor Ted Daly.

He added that since Sidney has little new land to build on, it’s up to North Saanich to provide space in appropriate areas for more  housing.

“We are being a complete, inclusive community,” Daly said about this bylaw change.

He did credit Finall for having the courage to stick with her convictions throughout this process but made it clear the opposing positions of the councillors had not changed.

Should council approve the bylaw changes over the next few months, land along the McTavish and Canora road area — as well as along  McDonald Park Road next to the Tsehum Harbour — will be approved to take up to 520 additional housing units through increased density. Already, the District has applications for up to 295 units in those areas and one  40-unit project has already started construction at a Canora Road  property.

Maps of the subject areas show some vacant land. Much of it is, however, currently occupied by existing homes. Any proposed housing development would still have to seek various approvals from the municipality.

The council majority has been clear since early in their term they are supportive of more market-driven housing in North Saanich.  Councillors Dunstan Browne, Conny McBride, Craig Mearns and Daly have stated additional varied housing options will, in their view, fulfill the needs of local workers. Various industrial companies have for years been lobbying Saanich Peninsula municipalities for more housing options for its employees.

McBride said council is not just opening up North Saanich for development with these changes.

“It’s at our peril that we start to mess with the character of our community,” she said. “Diversity in housing is needed. ALR development isn’t even planned, nor will anyone build over the parks. We need to have housing and the population to help support business (on the Peninsula).”

The growth is “all quite modest,” added Browne, saying these are relatively small areas being talked about for development. He added council’s majority is not talking about urbanizing a large portion of  North Saanich.

“If this is so modest and so innocuous,” replied Finall, “I think it’s really important that every resident should know about it and what is proposed.”

The mayor suggested the District should send letters to each resident in the areas affected by the change. She also reiterated her call for a full official community plan review in the wake of what she has called fundamental change to the community. Finall and councillors  Elsie McMurphy and Celia Stock have pushed for the focus to be on social  housing projects.

Daly said Finall has been asking for the OCP review since the public housing study and implementation plan backed up the majority’s wish to expand housing options. He said he asked for an OCP review at the start of the council term, but at that time, said Finall told council it wasn’t necessary.

The mayor’s ideas on consultation and an OCP review are on a timeline that would extend past the next election, Daly said.

Council did approve additional notification to residents in the McTavish Road and McDonald Park Road areas subject to the bylaw change.  As well, the residential intensification plans will be posted on the District’s website. Council must also hold a public hearing, which is expected to occur following consultation with their neighbouring  communities and a review of the proposed Regional Context Statement  changes by the Capital Regional District.

District Housing Report Stays on the Shelf

North Saanich Councillor Dunstan Browne has questioned whether council recently shelved its housing strategy implementation report.

At the Feb. 17 meeting, Browne took issue with the Peninsula News Review report outlining his and council’s decision to tell staff to do no further work in relation to the report.

“It’s the underpinning of the District’s housing policy,” Browne said.

“We were not wanting to shelve it,” added Coun. Craig Mearns.

Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan said, however, that council’s discussion on Feb. 3 stemmed from Browne’s motion that told staff to do nothing more on the report.

“We were waiting for the deliberation of council on any future actions, if any,” Buchan said.  “All of the dialogue is there (the council’s webcast) in regards to the wording and what was said.”

The result was, Buchan added, an amended motion to take further action on the report.

The District’s housing strategy implementation report, conducted by CTQ Consultants Ltd. of Kelowna, has been hotly debated by council.
Only some of its 11 recommendations have been acted on to date.

Those are:
• setting in motion plans to increase residential housing density in the McTavish Road area and along McDonald Park Road.
• set densities and types of housing for those two sites.
• seek modification of the District’s regional context statement/regional growth strategy.

Council is currently seeking information from the consulting firm to address their request to be paid additional money for their work on the report.

Many frustrating council meetings

Letter to the Editor, Peninsula News Review, Feb. 26, 2014

It was very disturbing to read the letter from Virginia Smith (PNR, Feb. 21).

To suggest “our mayor and council have no interest in any future for the area other than one of subdivisions, industrial parks and shopping malls” is far from the reality.

I have attended many a frustrating council meeting as the pro-development majority of (Councillors) Daly, Mearns, McBride and Brown push through their agenda.

Meanwhile, Mayor Finall and Councilors Elsie McMurphy and Celia Stock try in vain to interject some reason into the debate.

They are not completely against development but have advocated for slower, more measured growth within the mandate of our Official Community Plan.

They want some certainty that there be an affordable housing strategy.

Their hands are tied — the 4-3 majority always prevails.

There are likely many North Saanich residents who wish they had turned out to vote in the last election. A 12-vote difference (Ted Daly just squeaked in) is having an irreversible effect on the future face of North Saanich.

Donnamae Wilson, North Saanich

We must be ever conscious of our decision-making

Letter to the Editor, Peninsula News Review, Feb. 26, 2014

Re: Guest Cottages are the tip of the iceberg (PNR, Feb. 21, 2014).

The writer suggests that I, as mayor of North Saanich, ignore agriculture and environmental issues: Puzzling and simply wrong!

I believe we must all be vigilant with regard to our precious and finite agricultural lands and the unique character of North Saanich. We must be ever conscious in our decision-making about the future we are shaping for our children’s children. I believe that my actions demonstrate that commitment. Following my election as mayor in 2008, council adopted our Community Whole Agriculture Strategy following extensive and rewarding community consultation. We also pursued an Agricultural Economic Development Strategy. Prior to my election, I was part of a group of wonderful local volunteers who established our North Saanich Farm Market, a resounding success.

However, I do understand the writer’s concern over subdivisions. I have consistently opposed the decisions of the present council permitting spot rezoning of subdivisions, particularly in the southeast quadrant of the municipality.  Allowing such subdivisions in settled and established areas creates two main land use issues. First, it sets a precedent and raises expectations for others. Second, piece-meal subdivision upzoning in settled regions can ultimately change the much-valued character of our neighbourhoods.
The current severe drought situation in California, attributable to climate change, is just one of the many indicators of increasing pressures on world food production and supply. Of all the land in the Capital Region, only 5.4 per cent remains in the ALR.

I consistently advocate for the protection of our remaining agricultural land base and support for those who farm it.

Mayor Alice Finall, North Saanich

Tough Questions on Housing

Peninsula News Review Editorial, Feb. 26, 2014

Pointed questions asked by Whistler housing consultant Tim Wake at the recent Mayor’s Breakfast should also be asked by municipal politicians on the Saanich Peninsula.

They might not like the answers and it might put paid to the notion that this area will ever be home to social housing or even the workforce housing for which local businesses have been lobbying. Wake, speaking to the various plans created in Sidney and North Saanich — more specifically in the latter community — wondered aloud whether all of that talking would ever result in a change in housing for the working people on the Peninsula.

Not likely, he answered, noting that North Saanich has at least two plans completed since 2008 that essentially say the same thing — there is little to no housing here in the price range of the average working family. And that means their paycheques end up where they actually live — elsewhere in Greater Victoria.
It’s also not likely to occur any time soon, he added. Current development projects in Sidney and North Saanich are market housing and their prices still outpace what would be affordable to people with average incomes.

Yet before anyone calls for social housing as the only options left, consider Wake’s other questions — “Where do you want those people to live and spend those dollars? Wouldn’t you want them to live here?”
Answers to these questions aren’t that easy to come by and at times local politicians have stated that one of their neighbouring communities might be the place for such housing.

Wake’s presentation has, in essence, pressed the restart button on housing on the Saanich Peninsula. His questions should give local politicians pause and force them to come clean on just what they want in their communities. For some, it’s market housing. For others, ‘affordable’ means ‘social’ housing. But unless they are willing to do more than pay into a Capital Regional District fund for social housing that will probably continue to build somewhere else, what we have left is simple posturing.

If housing really is a priority, we need to come up with some honest answers to these questions.

City of Campbell River donates property to Habitat for Humanity

News Release, Feb. 27, 2014

Campbell River City Council unanimously supports donating, the property at 129 Westgate Road to Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North.

“Council made the decision at the February 18 in-camera meeting, and we are pleased to announce this donation, which creates an opportunity for a residential duplex to be built at this location,” says Mayor Walter Jakeway. “This is the City’s second partnership with Habitat for Humanity, and we’re pleased to continue to support their worthy efforts.”

The property is valued at approximately $95,200, and the City has approved $33,000 from the 2014 Council Contingency budget to cover fees and charges associated with the project such as re-zoning, development and legal costs.

In 2007, the City of Campbell River donated a lot at 901 9th Street – then valued at $60,000 – as a future building site for a duplex dwelling.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this donation of land, which demonstrates the City’s continued support for our program,” says Deb Roth, Executive Director for Humanity Vancouver Island North. “We are currently looking for families for our build projects, and I encourage everyone to visit our website www.HabitatNorthIsland.com for information on who may qualify for this program.”

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, faith-based housing program dedicated to the elimination of poverty by building homes in partnership with families in need. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with affordable, no-interest mortgages. In addition to mortgage payments, the homeowner invests hundreds of hours of labour, called “sweat equity”, into building the home and the houses of others.

Habitat for Humanity also operates the ReStore on Willow Street in Campbellton, which is used to raise funds for house-building projects. The ReStore sells used building supplies and household items, all of which are donated.

Six-storey, wood-frame Saanich rental buildings win raves

[By Carla Wilson / Times Colonist, February 20, 2014]

A rental housing development featuring a pair of six-storey buildings that broke new ground in the local construction industry is winning accolades from residents, neighbours and the municipality of Saanich.

Herons Landing and the Ardea at the corner of Burnside and Tillicum roads are the first rental-only structures on the South Island to take advantage of 2009 changes in the building code that allow wood-frame multi-family buildings up to six storeys, an increase of two floors, said builder Ernie Yakimovich.

E Y Properties Ltd., Yakimovich’s three-generation, family-owned company, is at the forefront of an emerging local trend. In addition to Yakimovich’s new 104-unit complex, there’s a five-storey rental wood-frame building wrapping up in Langford. Also in Langford, there are two applications for six-storey wood-frame multi-family buildings, one with 130 rental units. Saanich has a five-storey wood-frame condo building going up.

Still, new rental developments funded by the private sector are not common. Yakimovich said his new project is the first rental the company has built in nearly three decades.

“This is a big deal,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, on hand Thursday to officially open the Herons Landing and the Ardea. “This is a real event to have a purpose-built rental building in our municipality and in our region. It’s got to be more than a quarter of a century since something like this has opened up — private money providing rental housing in our community.”

Greater Victoria’s rental vacancy rate was 2.8 per cent in October, according to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Yakimovich said the new development was the result of a “a perfect storm” of circumstances — the six-storey, wood-frame allowance, low interest rates, reasonable construction costs, the fact the company already owned the land, support from Saanich in zoning, parking and density, and backing from the Gorge Tillicum Community Association.

“It allowed us to maybe take a slightly lesser margin in order to allow this to happen,” Yakimovich said. “All those factors basically had to come together.”

Once land and costs including construction are added up, the project is valued at $18.5 million, Yakimovich said. The goal was a high-quality, environmentally friendly project, he said. “We tried to maximize the standards wherever possible.” Features include quartz countertops, in-floor radiant heating and nine-foot-high ceilings.

The multi-family development is the first in the region to obtain a BuiltGreen Platinum rating. “This raises the bar for others to aspire in the resident-building sector,” Jenifer Christenson, Built Green Canada’s executive director, said in a news release.

The first tenants of the Ardea and Herons Landings moved in late last year.

Tenant George Johnson, 88, said he loves of the location and features of his fifth-floor bachelor unit. “It is just the size I want. For me, it is perfect. Everything is brand new.”

Rob Wickson, community association president, said the group first started talking about the site with Yakimovich a decade ago. The neighourhood is pleased to see such a quality rental development.

E Y Properties has about 600 rental units in the region. Herons Landing has 60 units and 3,000 square feet for the company’s head office. Ardea, a Latin word for heron, has 44 units.

Units range from bachelor suites starting at $850 a month to three-bedrooms from $1,700. Yakimovich’s daughter Angela Oakley said 23 units are still available.


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