Southern Gulf Islands Housing Strategy»
On May 11, 2022, The Capital Regional District Board endorsed a housing strategy for the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area (SGI EA). Like many communities in the Capital Regional District, housing affordability is the result of a complexity of factors that, in the SGI EA, are compounded by the unique characteristics of the islands as rural, remote, environmentally sensitive, and growth constrained. Affordable housing is a top priority for the Regional Director(s) of the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area (SGI EA) and the Southern Gulf Islands Community Economic Sustainability Commission (SGI CESC), which has identified the need for affordable housing as a key factor influencing the economic and social sustainability of the islands.
Within the constraints of the islands, there remain many positive strategic actions that can be advanced to alleviate the strain of the housing crisis. The SGI Housing Strategy provides a path to get there within the framework of a CRD Rural Housing Program. The strategy also includes an objective to advance a whole government approach. While it is written for the CRD, multiple actors need to work together to make tangible progress. This is a shared responsibility of the federal, provincial, and local governments, but cannot be successful without partnerships with the non-profit sector and residents alike.
Accompanying the strategy are two reports to support implementation. The Updated Regional Needs Assessment: SGI Market Analysis (Urban Matters, March 2022) provides an update to the SGI Housing Needs Assessment (JG Consulting, 2018) and demonstrates the dramatic increase in the cost of housing since pre-pandemic times. The Southern Gulf Islands Housing Feasibility Analysis (Wiser Projects, May 2022) provides a summary of challenges and opportunities in the housing environment of the SGI and is supported by proformas with estimated costs for development of a range of housing typologies permitted under zoning in the Southern Gulf Islands.
The SGI Housing NOW Project is an initiative of the SGI Community Economic Sustainability Commission (CESC), the SGI Community Resource Centre and several Gulf Island housing movements. The SGI Housing NOW Project explores innovative ways to meet this housing crisis in the short-term, as well as into the future.
In February 2018, the CRD published the Southern Gulf Islands Housing Needs Assessment. This assessment noted the “serious shortages in secure, appropriate and affordable housing for low to moderate-income earners,” and that “renters are particularly impacted as their incomes are insufficient to enter the homeownership market, and the limited number of rental properties are increasingly vacant seasonally or placed in the vacation rental market.”
SGI residents and business owners have described the housing situation as bordering on crisis, and as having serious impacts on their families, the community's well-being, and economic sustainability.
The summer months are of significant consequence as the lack of accommodations for both seasonal employees and residents negatively impacts the general economy and functionality of community-owned and operated businesses.
About the Project
Housing NOW gathers housing stories from residents to identify the most pressing issues facing islanders, and to articulate grassroot solutions that can be implemented NOW.
The project also has a home/property sharing registry – created for and managed by Islanders to help support both short and long-term housing opportunities in the Southern Gulf Islands. The registry is an actionable housing initiative that supports our island businesses and community groups in the recruitment and retention of employees or volunteers.