Letter: Councillors bent on restricting development

Canada has a housing crisis, and a shortfall estimated at 1.8 million housing units

Councillors bent on restricting development

Mayor and council of Municipality of North Cowichan:

Canada has a housing crisis, and a shortfall estimated at 1.8 million housing units — (Scotiabank Canada Housing report, May 2021, Jean-Francois Perrault.)

Cowichan Valley Housing Profile since 2014, home prices have increased by 41.1 per cent in Vancouver Island and Victoria CMA. Rents have increased by 26 per cent (current average rent is $1,315). The vacancy rate is at 2.2 per cent and the population increased by 4.2 per cent (BC Housing Feb. 27, 2020).

There is a fast-growing part of the Canadian population who are having difficulties saving the required down payment to purchase a home. Even then, they are vulnerable to fluctuating interest rates, which will increase in due course (perhaps sooner than thought).

Also, the numbers seeking rental accommodation are growing and are stressed with low vacancy rates and limited units for rent. Many, when they can, are moving back in with their parents.

Three North Cowichan municipal councillors are determined to restrict housing development. At the Oct. 7 council meeting, Councillor Marsh will present a motion to downgrade a property at 9090 Trans-Canada Hwy., Chemainus. This will be the second attempt to block the development of 108 small homes on a 21-acre property currently zoned for such a development. This flies in the face of reasonableness and may even be considered capricious behavior.

The three councillors preoccupied with preserving the “green fields” are bent on restricting development. This, it appears, is now to be applied to the Bell McKinnon area where the new regional hospital is slated to be built. Some of the current councillors wish to apply restrictions to a previously approved plan by a different council. The uncertainty this creates may influence whether the hospital project will proceed or not.

Indeed, we should protect our beautiful valley, but it also needs to be more productive. This is achievable but will require much better planning. Councillors will have to avoid a tendency to implement biases without adequate consideration of all values sought in the operating plan laid out by council as a committee.

I wish to encourage all Cowichan Valley residents to share their concerns with the current council of the North Cowichan municipality. This also includes those residents not in the MNC but who will benefit when a new regional hospital is built and operational. Send an email to: council@northcowichan.ca

Christopher Carruthers

North Cowichan