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Experts talk big picture solutions to the Island’s ongoing affordability crisis

With cost of living on the rise, how can we make life more livable in Greater Victoria?

By Nina Grossman
November 26, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Experts talk big picture solutions to the Island’s ongoing affordability crisis

With cost of living on the rise, how can we make life more livable in Greater Victoria?

By Nina Grossman
Nov 26, 2022
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Experts talk big picture solutions to the Island’s ongoing affordability crisis

With cost of living on the rise, how can we make life more livable in Greater Victoria?

By Nina Grossman
November 26, 2022
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Experts talk big picture solutions to the Island’s ongoing affordability crisis
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

There’s no escaping the topic of affordability on Vancouver Island. Housing is expensive and hard to find, food, gas and childcare prices are high, and now even stable, accessible healthcare comes at a cost.

Earlier this month Capital Daily moderated a panel discussion with local experts called Vital Conversation: How Can We Afford to Live Here?

Panelists dove deep on the impacts they’re seeing in the community—but they also spoke about solutions. Instead of bringing you another story about what’s going wrong, Capital Daily poses the question: What can we do differently?

Diana Gibson, executive director of the Community Social Planning Council pointed to a report the council published in September that identified a gap of roughly 7,000 affordable housing units in Greater Victoria.

“That’s some low-hanging fruit regionally, for municipal and provincial governments to start filling that gap quickly,” Gibson said, adding that one in five Victoria households are putting more than 30% of their family’s income towards housing, putting them at higher risk of eviction or even homelessness.

The answer, she said, is public investment. Housing cannot exist solely within a private market.

“We really need direct public investment and non-profit housing,” she said. “The market won't deliver low-income and affordable housing, particularly in the current market.”

“That’s one of the ways to address discrimination in our housing access,” she added. “Is for the government to build that housing and make sure that it's available to folks regardless of background, income source and identity.”  

Kelly Greenwell, executive director of the Quadra Village Community Centre, agreed.

“We need this consistent stream of building our own public affordable housing in order to…keep our people afloat,” he said. “We need these baseline levels where people know that
they can be housed, people know they can have their basic needs taken care of.”  

Gibson pointed to the province’s $10 a day childcare program, which was one of few areas of improvement.

“The living wage went down in 2019 because of the child care investment,” Gibson said. “So the province and the federal government can do more to intervene on the cost drivers, so that it doesn't land on us as businesses in the local economy trying to constantly keep pace with this out of control inflation.”

On the topic of food security, Kara Udell, executive director of the Capital Region Food Share Network Society, called for greater collaboration among regional food programs, with an emphasis on sourcing local food.

When inflation started growing, Udell said “everybody was trying to get what they could for their own organizations to try and meet the needs of their own clients.”

“Then when we came together, it was like, ‘wait there's a better way to do this. We can be at a table together, we can share resources, we can streamline processes,” she said.

A decreased reliance on global food sources will also create a more solid, sustainable region, she said.  

“I encourage people to throw your support behind local producers, behind local businesses…and food sellers who have a history of ethical and integral practices.”  

“If we do that as a community…maybe the rates will come down,” Udell added. “ If they don't, that's okay—we're connected with Jim over here who is this incredible grocer, or Bob over there who has a rich community farm and he wants that healthy food to get to the community.”

Despite current difficulties, the panelists offered messages of hope—particularly to young people.

“I would say if the system that you're stuck in is broken, step out of it,” Udell said. “Do something different. Look at what we can do to move forward and to meet the needs of our community for us to thrive together collaboratively.

If the existing system—which we know is shattered—isn't going to work…then do what you can now, together, as a community to change that,” she added. “And when it works, share that knowledge. Have those conversations and get people inspired and excited about trying something different. When something works, tell everybody who will listen.”

Article Author's Profile Picture
Nina Grossman
Newsletter Editor
contact@capitaldaily.ca

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