Doubtful that affordable housing tax will yield results
Dear CVRD chairman and board directors:
I am most relieved a proposed annual tax concerning affordable housing is going to referendum during the October election.
While Cowichanians are now taxed to the max at all levels, another levy is the last thing we need.
However, the shocking shortage of affordable housing in Cowichan is now at crisis levels, an alarm bell our leaders have known about for years yet done precious little to answer.
Aside from our critical-yet-crammed Warmland House, our elected politicians have failed to address housing for homeless folks — now estimated by Social Planning Cowichan at about 2,000 people.
But there is a whole host of housing needed across our valley, from abodes for students and seniors to the working poor and struggling families.
Toss in more shelter beds too.
We need affordable housing, not more tasteless Langford- or Surrey-style subdivisions.
What comprises truly affordable housing for our rainbow of social strata needs a close look. Affordable to whom? What percentage of annual income does affordable realistically comprise? Where can that housing be profitably built and by whom?
Our leaders have failed to work with talented local developers to address our housing crunch. Instead, our politicians’ answer is the proposed Cowichan Housing Association to do their job.
Indeed, there are many creative housing models, such as co-operatives, used routinely in other countries — models that could and should be adapted here.
But would the proposed Cowichan Housing Association answer these hard housing questions, along with leveraging funding from senior governments?
That’s doubtful, given the CVRD’s lame lack of annual success measurements for our feckless Economic Development Cowichan. Indeed, if this newest tax passes, I’d expect our hard-earned $765,000 to set up CHA management that does very little.
In the same way that our EDC cries for annual numbers of new businesses brought to Cowichan, so must the CHA list numbers of homes built.
If not, the CHA would just be another tax- and time-waster while Cowichan’s affordable-housing crisis grows.
And that housing must be green — as in solar, water catchment, materials, geothermal and other modern measures befitting eco-sensitive Cowichan’s climate-change initiatives.
Unless the proposed CHA promises bulletproof results, action and building — not more talk, meetings and studies — I’ll be voting against the proposed tax come October.
Peter W. Rusland