The islands in the Trust Area support strong communities characterized by a mix of lifestyles, livelihoods and individuals. Island residents work together to bring special skills and viewpoints to sustain a tradition of community involvement. Because the islands are close to major population centres they are attractive for vacation properties. But with absentee owners, who volunteers for the local fire department? Who provides needed services? How do we ensure that our communities continue to function as real neighbourhoods, rather than resort or tourist destinations full of temporary visitors?
The price of real estate on the islands has risen at a much greater rate than local incomes making suitable year-round rental accommodation hard to find. These factors make it increasingly difficult to sustain communities that are affordable to the people who live and work on the islands. There are also the challenges presented by an increasing proportion of senior residents.
In September 2011, the Islands Trust developed an Affordable Housing Guide to explain the various regulatory requirements and approval processes typically involved when considering affordable and special needs housing.
Please click below to print a letter size (8.5”x11”) version of the guide:
Affordable Housing Guide (September 14, 2011)
A Council Priority
Improving availability of affordable, accessible, appropriate housing using the land use planning tools is a strategic priority for Trust Council (2014-2018 Strategic Plan 5.1).
On June 13, 2016 Islands Trust held a Community Housing Forum where over 70 individuals, community groups, local governments and elected officials shared experiences, challenges, opportunities and examples of how we can work together to achieve affordable housing on islands in the Salish Sea. You can view the master power point here. The participants also received a baseline report outlining existing policies and regulation to address affordable housing in the Trust Area.
In September 2016, Trust Council approved the final report: Community Housing in the Trust Area that included seven recommendations by the Local Planning Committee to improve Islands Trust’s ability to meet community housing needs across the Trust Area.
Housing Needs Assessments are the first step a community can take to understand the gap(s) between the housing needs of its people and the availability of suitable housing to meet that need. Below is a list of Housing Needs Assessments completed in the Trust Area:
- Salt Spring Island Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, (JG Consulting), 2015
- Housing on Galiano: Trends, Needs, Demands, (M. Thomson), 2014. (Note this report was application driven for one specific project).
- Gabriola Island Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (Weller Consulting), 2009.
- Islands Trust Housing Needs Assessment: A Step towards a Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy for Salt Spring Island, (JG Consulting), 2009.
- Housing Needs Assessment for Hornby and Denman Islands (2008)
- North Pender Island Affordable Housing Report (2008)
Local communities also need the involvement of islanders to identify and implement appropriate housing solutions for each community. Local trust committees, through their land use planning authority, can provide only opportunities for housing initiatives. The actual creation of housing requires partnerships involving interested residents and property owners, non-government organizations and government agencies.
Local trust committees are looking for new ways to make sure housing is available to support the community diversity that the islands are known for, while maintaining the character and environmental integrity of the islands themselves.
Seniors Housing Strategy (2010)
Islands Trust Community Housing Tool Kit (2010)
Hornby Island Advisory Housing Committee Report (2004)