We all know that housing is an issue in Greater Victoria, but it’s solvable. The disparity between renters and home-owners continue to grow at an alarming rate. The gap is widening under our current behaviours. The answer lies in addressing both supply and demand.
To increase supply, we need to build more units. Not only do we need to build more units in general, we need to build 2-3 bedroom units to accommodate growing families. Vacancy rates for 1 bedroom units are 0.7% and 0.0% for 3+ bedrooms according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report in 2017. We want to be a city where families can thrive. In order for families to stay in our communities, we must create housing suitable for parents with multiple children.
Increasing zoning for duplexes and quadplexes is a simple way to increase the total number of units without dramatically changing what the neighbourhood looks like aesthetically. Building low-rise housing and small townhouse complexes near transit routes in urban villages throughout the city will decrease the impact that densification has on residential parking and are also important in order to create diverse housing options suitable for students, single working professionals, couples, and young families.
Further, using creative solutions such as increasing garden suites, carriageway homes, and legalizing tiny homes are ways we can add more units to our community and provide current home-owners with supplementary income.
Shifting perspectives of housing as homes first and investments second is important so that we can truly have ‘homes for all’. When we see having a place to live as more than simply that, but rather an investment for profit or supplementary income for later, we are profiting off others without. While we increase supply, we also need to decrease demand for purchases that are purely investment. Purchasing for investment rather than living, takes the unit away from someone else who may be scrimping in order to enter the market. This then drives up the costs of owning a home and also increases the cost for rent as investors aim to profit from their investment. Moreover, some investment properties remain empty awaiting resale. It is preferred that locals have the opportunities to live in these units and call it home.
To do this, we need to follow available reports regarding non-local investment in order to decrease speculation. We need to tax empty homes that don’t contribute to our community in order to decrease incentive for purchasing solely for resale. We also need to restrict or regulate short term vacation rentals in favour of long-term rental for people who work and live right here in our city.