Affordable housing is a human right, not a commodity to be ruled by the simplistic supply/demand argument advanced by Realtor Derek Costantino in his letter of Dec. 12 (Courtenay city council has become a rudderless ship). Courtenay Councillors Frisch, Hillian, Eriksson and Wells were acting responsibly for the citizens in defeating Mayor Jangula’s housing motion on Dec. 4.
While there is a shortage of rental accommodation, there is a crisis in affordable housing to meet the needs of students, the homeless, the disabled, seniors/those on fixed income and single parents. Mayor Jangula’s motion would have in effect created a dictatorship for developers and realtors who are motivated more by profit than social responsibility. Had Mr. Costantino bothered to listen to the debate, it was made clear that affordable housing mentioned in the preamble, played no part in the action being proposed.
Vancouver has adopted the developers’ agenda and exacerbated their housing crisis, resulting in increased homelessness and a situation where the young and brightest can ill afford to reside and work there. We should learn from their mistakes. Insulting officials and staff with words such as lack of foresight and knowledge, timid and myopic, is both inaccurate and nothing more than a political agenda to discredit the incumbents, and doesn’t facilitate constructive dialogue.
From my interaction with several housing contractors, they articulated that “all development units will be made available for rent,” “rates will be determined by market conditions as this project is entirely privately driven,” “the development …. is not intended to solve the City’s homeless issue.” This is a typical response.
We need social housing at rental rates below 30 per cent of net income. Councillors need to be pro-active in creating a housing vision for the city and lobbying the senior levels of government, who can obtain more favourable interest rates than private borrowers, for funding.