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Saanich, Oak Bay & Victoria heading into housing collaboration with the Province

Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay on board

Friday June 2, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 3:15 pm] | NEXT ANNOUNCEMENT is on September 26, 2023 in SAANICH (revisit this page for an update)

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The first set of identified communities where the BC Government is now expecting to see more attention paid to the creation of more housing supply was released on May 31.

housing minister, ravi kahlon, vancouver
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced the first 10 municipalities where more housing supply is now expected, May 31, 2023 in Vancouver. [Global News / web]

Of the 10 municipalities on the list, three are here on south Vancouver Island: District of Oak Bay, District of Saanich, and City of Victoria.

“Put simply, housing supply cannot keep up with the demand,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon on Wednesday during a news conference from Vancouver.

population growth, bc
The population of British Columbia increased by 250,000 in 2021 and 2022.

Starting with the communities with the highest need, the province is setting what they acknowledge are ambitious housing targets, in: Abbotsford, Delta, Kamloops, North Vancouver, Oak Bay, Port Moody, Saanich, Vancouver, Victoria, and West Vancouver.

In addition to the 10 municipalities on the May 31 list, there will be 10 more later this year, and a further 10 targeted municipalities in 2024, said Kahlon.

Municipalities on board:

While Vancouver and Victoria have clearly embraced the housing crisis to varying degrees in recent years, other municipalities have held onto some more traditional approaches to serving their populations with certain types of housing.

The District of Oak Bay and District of Saanich might have at one time been in some ways reluctant to embrace higher density. Market housing investment is strong in those communities. But that seems not the case based on statements this week.

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The City of Victoria has tried embracing new housing approaches but the approvals process has developed a reputation for becoming complicated or long-drawn out.

kevin murdock, mayor, saanich
District of Saanich Mayor Kevin Murdock (April 11, 2023 / Island Social Trends]

SAANICH: Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock seems readily on board. He was quoted in the May 31 BC Housing Ministry news release, in a way that indicates Saanich is already on board to be part of the solution: “This is a positive step toward creating more homes for more people to live in Saanich. We look forward to working with the Province to set targets and welcome their support to achieve our housing goals.”

OAK BAY: Many people expected Oak Bay — known for its high property values and relatively steady-as-she-goes community ilk — to perhaps be reluctant to be included in the first round of the provincial government’s “let’s get a move on increasing housing supply”. But the District of Oak Bay readily issued a statement indicating a full willingness to be part of the solution:

kevin murdoch, oak bay, mayor
District of Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch (April 11, 2023 / Island Social Trends]

“The District welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Province to develop housing targets and explore options for more diverse and affordable housing options that align with Oak Bay’s heritage and unique character. As the smallest community of the ten municipalities, capacity remains Oak Bay’s biggest challenge and the District looks forward to receiving the provincial modelling and having the Province as a partner to support reaching housing targets. Oak Bay Council has undertaken foundational work towards advancing Council’s Housing priority and has already identified related projects. The alignment of Provincial objectives with Council’s priorities presents synergies and opportunities to advance and explore possibilities to increase diverse housing within Oak Bay in a manner consistent with the guiding principles for infill housing recently identified by the community.”

VICTORIA: Given that Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto was involved in Premier David Eby’s housing announcement on April 3 along with Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, the alignment of her city with the provincial goals seems apparent. Today the Mayor provided a short statement to Island Social Trends:

“We welcome being part of a first wave of communities challenged to accelerate building homes for people. These targets reflect the city’s own commitment to housing current and future Victorians,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto.

marianne alto, victoria, mayor
City of Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto at the April 3, 2023 BC government housing announcement in Vic West. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

The work begins:

Kahlon said on May 31 that government and consultants will work with any municipalities that find themselves struggling with the notion or the mechanics of taking on this task to deal with producing an increase in housing supply.

Government staff will meet with municipalities in two weeks. Then the municipalities will have a 30-day window to assess how they can meet the requirements. Progress updates will be expected every six months.

mitzi dean, constituency ad, 2023

List of indicators:

The Municipal Selection Index Indicators were weighted within three key dimensions: availability of right housing supply, urgent housing needs, and location. More specifically:

  • Availability of right housing supply: dwelling to population ratio (10%), dwellings per residential land area (10%), density to reach affordability (10%), ground-oriented to multi-storey housing ratio (5%), renter to ownership ratio (5%), housing for workers and families (15%), proximity to amenities (15%).
  • Urgent housing needs: homelessness count (10%), social housing waitlist (10%) – both of these relative to population size
  • Location: rural/urban (10%) – with a priority on urban
municipality, housing, indicators
Municipality Selection Index Indicators [BC Ministry of Housing, May 31, 2023]

===== RELATED:

Ten municipalities selected for housing supply increase, 20 more to come (May 31, 2023)

BC Indo-Pacific trade mission: diversify trade routes, learn about housing options (May 27, 2023)

Future Ready skills-to-economy matching amidst quarter-million population influx (May 2, 2023)

Refreshed housing action plan will apply BC-wide (April 3, 2023)

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Backgrounder detailing municipality selection index indicators, visit:

About the Housing Supply Act, visit:

Homes for People action plan, visit:

Permitting Strategy for Housing, visit:

New investments in digital permitting, visit: