North Cowichan heard loud and clear in the recent Satisfaction Survey that a lot of work needs to be done to improve the efficiency of our development processes. If we are serious about housing this needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
There is a great need for housing whether you are looking to rent, wanting to purchase a home or are retired and looking to downsize. North Cowichan has so much potential to move forward with housing that is attainable for those who really need it and find balance to make sure we do this not only with the community in mind, but also while preserving our ecosystems and green space. A lot of work has been done to look at the immediate needs with our Housing Needs Assessment and extensively throughout our recent Official Community Plan review. Now we need to look at what land is available within the Urban Containment Boundary and work efficiently with developers who come forward. Municipal resources are tight with so many large projects also on the go - the new RCMP station, the new high school and new hospital - so we need to get creative.
Multi-family options across the spectrum of housing with a focus on one bedroom rental apartments needs to be a big focus as well as ensuring that the larger vision of how we want our neighbourhoods to look, feel and function becomes a reality.
Shared community spaces, walkability and safe active transportation to work and services, tree canopy for biodiversity and shade, water collection & conservation, electric vehicle charging and energy efficiency to keep costs low are critical to affordability and creating & maintaining healthy neighbourhoods. The need for increasing safe & welcoming community connections is vital.
With the Official Community Plan now adopted and an Affordable Housing Policy in the works, we need to hear from developers more than ever so we get things right and instead of slowing down the process, we can make improvements. We also need to explore how we can better accommodate non-traditional housing such as those living in vehicles, RVs, float homes, tiny houses, etc.
We have so much potential in North Cowichan and I would like to continue to build on it. I will fight hard for funding from higher levels of government including BC Housing, and will work closely with Cowichan Housing Association and Cowichan leaders to continue to provide housing options and local services that will support those who are unhoused, surrounding businesses and all residents.