COWICHAN REGION AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY
Eight Strategic Directions
The following strategies were developed as the result of community consultations including community forums, surveys, a review of previous housing reports and meetings with local government representatives, non-government organizations (non-profit organizations), local business organizations, planners and developers.
These strategies explain the role that local government, non-profit organizations, businesses, and community members can take to improve the supply of affordable housing.
Housing is the cornerstone of healthy communities. This is a ‘made in the Cowichan Valley strategy’ sensitive to the unique needs of the people who live and work here.
Strategy One: Adopt policies that promote affordable housing throughout the Region.
To ensure that housing is available to everyone in the Cowichan Region, a focused effort will be required from all government jurisdictions. Affordable housing policies should:
a. Adopt a consistent region-wide definition of affordable housing.
b. Require all new developments to set aside a portion of affordable housing.
c. Adopt best affordable housing practices from other regions and local governments (See Appendix A for a listing of zoning and subdivision bylaws.)
d. Be consistent across all jurisdictions with regard to different density areas and settlement patterns.
e. Reflect community priorities in the Official Community Plan (OCP) process and other public consultations.
f. Address the needs of all types of households and income brackets.
g. Preserve the existing stock of affordable housing (see Strategy 5 below).
Strategy Two: Build partnerships with local government, community groups, non-profit organizations and local businesses to create affordable housing.
a. Creating affordable housing is often a complex undertaking. Success comes from collaborative efforts with local government, non-profit organizations, and businesses. It also comes from collaborative efforts with organizations that have had success working with senior levels of government to access funding for non-market housing.
b. Facilitate partnerships with developers, community groups and non-profit organizations to create both market and non-market housing for special needs groups - single parent families, seniors, and people with disabilities and mental health issues.
c. Consider creating land trusts for affordable housing (See Appendix B).
d. Take part in the Regional Affordable Housing Directorate or establish an advisory group. This group would monitor affordable housing needs in the Cowichan Region (see appendix B).
Strategy Three: Build support for affordable housing by raising community awareness.
The ‘not in my backyard’ sentiment blocks affordable housing initiatives. Working together with local communities fosters understanding and greater involvement.
a. Host workshops to provide information about local housing needs. This includes information about housing policies and funding opportunities for developers, community groups, and non-profit organizations.
b. Promote housing support programs that assist people with low to moderate income levels.
c. Encourage small lot in-fills.
d. Publicly celebrate successful affordable housing partnerships and initiatives.
e. Continue to encourage communities and neighbourhoods to take part in the Official Community Plan (OCP) process.
Strategy Four: Ensure that affordable housing needs are met through the four pillars of sustainability: social equity, economic health, cultural vitality, and environmental responsibility.
Community building calls for a ‘whole systems’ perspective. This ensures that affordable housing will meet current needs without compromising future generations.
a. Consider adopting the Community Safety Lens to promote inclusion and accessibility for all community members (multi-income and multi-generational).
b. Research and create an environmental check-list for housing development in the region. The check-list would include things like efficient use of energy and water, preservation of sensitive ecosystems, and preservation of agricultural lands.
c. Develop affordable housing that is integrated within communities. Transportation, services, and recreation should be considered.
d. Focus on building culturally vibrant, inclusive communities for all people living in the Cowichan Region.
Strategy Five: Prevent the loss of existing affordable housing stock.
Current rental and affordable housing stock is aging and in need of repair and maintenance. Related policies should consider:
a. Restricting the conversion of affordable rental housing to other uses or strata title.
b. Existing tenants’ need for affordable housing when re-zoning manufactured home parks.
c. Legitimizing illegal secondary suites.
d. Assisting homeowners and landlords to obtain senior level government funding for renovations and repairs to extend the life of affordable housing, promote energy efficiency, and ‘aging in place.’
e. Creating options for property owners to add accessory housing such as coach houses on larger urban lots.
Strategy Six: Advocate to the federal and provincial governments for affordable housing on behalf of the Cowichan Region.
a. Advocate and lobby senior levels of government to do more to create affordable housing. This could be done by partnering with other regions and local governments to advocate for programs that provide financial support.
b. Share information about government funding with other groups. Support local applications for funding to create affordable housing.
c. Apply for funding from the provincial and federal governments for regional and local housing needs.
d. Advocate for changes to the tax structure to facilitate affordable housing 2010.
Strategy Seven: Continue to monitor the affordable housing funding practices of other regional governments.
Extend the idea of partnerships to include multiple methods of funding beyond federal and provincial grants.
a. Consider incentive-based ways to lower the costs of housing, such as waiving development fees.
b. Investigate creating an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
c. Support agencies and developers to access financial support for affordable housing.
Strategy Eight: Work closely with the Cowichan Region First Nations governments to ensure that affordable housing needs for aboriginal peoples are met both on and off the reserve.
Aboriginal people comprise over 13 percent of the population of the Cowichan Region. They are disproportionately represented within the population who require affordable housing.