The Cowichan Valley will need an additional 5,000 housing units by 2025 to keep up with demand, according to a new report. (File photo)

Editorial: Vancouver Island facing big housing shortage

New ways of thinking needed as the squeeze seems destined to get worse

There’s not enough housing in the Cowichan Valley.

That includes both private homes and rentals. So concludes a report for the Cowichan Valley Regional District released recently.

For most in the area, this is no surprise. Particularly for anyone who’s tried to find a decent rental at a decent price. And it wouldn’t surprise people in Victoria, or Nanaimo or Courtenay if the numbers played out in similar fashion in those, or other Island communities as well.

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Moreover, the report tells us that things are just going to get worse in the years to come. That’s because, according to the report, the CVRD population is expected to increase by 15 per cent in just the next six years. That’s a lot more people looking for a place to call home. By 2025 the CVRD will need 5,000 more housing units.

The name of the game is going to be smaller units, the report found. People want something that’s going to be more affordable, and they want housing that’s suitable for a single person living alone, a couple living alone and for those who might have mobility challenges.

This should include everything from more multi-family buildings to tiny homes. Yes, tiny homes were officially floated as an option that can be part of the solution. It’s something that a lot of people in Cowichan have been arguing for. The CVRD has lagged far behind the tiny home trend, which has been booming for at least half a decade now. Yet at present, they are basically not allowed in the district due to building codes, etc.

And while of course we agree there need to be standards, the CVRD needs to be far more proactive in coming up with those standards so that people can start to get into tiny homes if they so choose. It’s important because housing in the region is increasingly unaffordable, and with the numbers projected in the CVRD report, it will only become more so as housing becomes more scarce with more demand.

Then there’s the rental situation. Very little investment has been made in affordable, good quality rental units in decades. That is just starting to change, but the need has built up to such a degree that it will take a lot just to catch up, let alone provide for the future need that the report says is coming.

In small communities the rental situation can be even more dire, as rentals are few and far between. This is particularly true of purpose-built apartments.

For the most part, the trend in recent years has not been to build small and affordable. That’s going to have to change. We urge our local governments to encourage this kind of housing diversity.

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Editorials