There is no question the cost of housing in our area is on the increase due to the popularity of the Island as a retirement destination as well as an ideal environment for raising young families.
But to add the cost of subsidizing affordable housing onto the shoulders of local property tax payers is neither sensible nor just. We are already battered by the demands of local and regional councils who seem to think nothing of passing budgets year after year with increases of more than one per cent. Given the runaway tax increase regime that appears to have become the norm in the Cowichan Valley, the proposal to introduce an additional tax for low cost housing is an outrage.
We are told a local contribution to the total of the very substantial cost of subsidized housing will provide leverage in obtaining money from provincial and federal funding programs. All very well and good. Perhaps we should take advantage of this opportunity.
But let’s not forget there is only one pot of local money and demands on it must be kept under control, which is to say total increases in local taxation must still not exceed one per cent.
Nevertheless, if it is deemed a necessity, I would be willing to support this measure when put to referendum, provided the CVRD details what program, staffing and capital costs will be reduced or eliminated to provide for a total annual budget increase under all headings of no more than one per cent. Until then, my vote will be no.