Regional Affordable Housing Tax an abomination

Subdivision housing developments do not belong in CVRD rural areas

The Regional Affordable Housing tax proposal is an outrageous overreach of the CVRD and an abdication of duty by the mayors and councils in Duncan and North Cowichan if that is where they want to park the problem.

We don’t need yet another “progressive” boondoggle tax to pay for new appointments, lunch meetings, high priced friendly consultants to study and report and meet and talk and disagree and mull and meet and eat and talk some more, to fix the problem of affordable housing in Cowichan.

CVRD, Duncan, North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes can barely agree on regional recreation, sports and entertainment. How on earth can we expect all to agree, let alone administer an affordable housing program? What is the CVRD doing in the affordable housing game anyway?

Subdivision housing developments do not belong in CVRD rural areas.

While some housing developments in rural areas may make sense, generally it’s not a good idea and against sound sustainable development principles.

CVRD should not receive tax dollars to support affordable housing programs away from managed infrastructure.

Affordable housing growth and development should happen in Duncan and North Cowichan urban growth areas only, in keeping with Official Community Plan bylaws.

The bottom line is the CVRD should stay out of affordable housing programs. Let rural dwellers have secondary suites for family, farm workers, and supplementary income, as current zoning permits. Housing development should take place almost exclusively in the incorporated municipalities.

Duncan and North Cowichan need strategies to ensure stable inventory of affordable accommodations in core areas by planning for the future, streamlining rules and regulations and making development permit application determinations swiftly.

Jon Lefebure and his anti-development friends on council and the CVRD have poisoned the well of business and opportunity and our communities are suffering gravely. For the last four years this divided council has stopped, delayed, overturned or slow walked vital private sector residential and commercial development, causing low affordable housing inventory and high price accommodation in North Cowichan today. It is also the reason we have rampant drug addiction, homelessness and rising crime.

Developers are often taken to the brink of litigation before council approves major development permit applications. Other developers find opportunity elsewhere. Our only saving grace in spite of mayor and council’s actions, is a stronger economy to help force progress on private sustainable development.

In addition, divided council has failed to develop bylaws that have been on the books for years to allow secondary suites in virtually all R2 type single dwelling residential zones. This act alone would practically end the affordable home crisis.

North Cowichan, of all places, does not need CVRD intervention to develop an affordable housing strategy. It has an abundance of prime land and could form its own strata corporation, arms length of council, to manage and develop housing as part of a mix of housing needs for the region between Victoria and Nanaimo. Working with the private sector, these developments could come on line quickly.

I introduced three programs to stimulate growth in home inventory for sale and rent while on the municipal scene. I proposed rebates for new home builds and home renovations for safe secondary suites, $1,000 and $500, respectively, fully funded from forest surpluses. Council compelled staff to act on my motion to develop a bylaw for secondary suites in R2 type zoned areas. North Cowichan Strata Corporation is an idea for discussion at council to manage prime land assets of the 5,000+ hectare land holding North Cowichan owns, acquired through tax sales from days gone by.

It’s time to better manage municipal land and surplus cash assets, adopt renter friendly bylaws and stimulate the commercial and residential construction sector. We don’t need another tax to solve the housing shortage.

John Koury, MBA,

Former Councillor and Chair of Economic Development Committee, North Cowichan

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