Is anyone on Salt Spring Island unhappy about Croftonbrook adding 52 affordable housing units to its current 20-suite property in north Ganges? Not likely.
Last week the province announced that $4.5-million in joint provincial government and Capital Regional District funding would be allotted for Croftonbrook, which is operated for BC Housing by the local Island Women Against Violence society. News was released as part of a tsunami of pre-election funding announcements hitting all parts of the province. It’s easy to be cynical about the timing of the big basket of disbursed gifts, but it’s silly to not be grateful.
With only 152 units of subsidized social housing currently available on the island, or about 250 if various seniors beds and women’s transition accommodation are counted, an additional 52 units represents a huge increase. The new Croftonbrook units will serve islanders of low to moderate incomes, as well as some who are homeless.
Caution is always in order when it comes to celebrating major project funding announcements, of course. A Salt Spring Island Community Services 20-unit project on former Catholic Diocese lands was being seriously discussed and worked on more than 20 years ago. While it is now progressing in a different form from the original vision, it has consumed major staff and board energy from the non-profit agency for many years.
Similarly, what started as a School District 64 project for 80 units on Drake Road and has since been transferred to the CRD received first reading of a rezoning bylaw two years ago, and is effectively stalled. Concerns about the North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s ability to provide water to those developments have been one significant roadblock. An alternate water feasibility study is now being pursued by the CRD.
With water supply issues always at the forefront of new developments, it’s heartening to see that IWAV has plans to use licensed groundwater and harvested rainwater to meet residents’ potable water needs.
One thing to be learned from the SSICS and CRD/SD64 projects is that proponents must keep working, despite daunting obstacles, to build homes for Salt Spring Islanders. Affordable housing supply is too important an issue for the community to shut the door on it now.