The first housing survey was done in 2008. Since then, there have been two other local surveys done that pertain to housing and other economic aspects of our island. The Strathcona study is broader in its range, but also pertains to the particulars of our island.
The statistics in these surveys further support and ground our felt and known experience; that the lack of affordable housing is making it hard for so many sections of our valued population to find homes, creating poverty and homelessness, thus driving people off island in search of work and housing.
This housing initiative has been a long held dream, now coming true, with ongoing support from so many.
The Strathcona Community Health Network (www.strathcona-chn.net) has hired Urban Matters to conduct a region-wide housing study to gather good info on the actual state of housing need, including a real focus on the region’s rural areas. Their first high-level data pulled from existing government sources shows that in ‘Area B’ (which is Cortes) 29% of the Cortes population spend more than 30% of their income on housing, which is the standard benchmark for housing affordability. This is the highest in the whole Strathcona Region! The facts most relevant to the Cortes Community Housing Initiative are on pages 2 and 9 of the report.
As part of the 2017/18 Cortes Zoning Bylaw review, Strathcona Regional District staff presented panels of information with draft recommendations for bylaw amendments. All of this can be found at http://strathconard.ca/corteszoning. The facts most relevant to the Cortes Community Housing Initiative are as follows.
• Page 1 of “Dwelling Use” slide shows that less than 70% of homes are occupied by year-round households as opposed to the National, Provincial and Regional average of about 90%.
• Page 1 of the “Housing” slide shows that 29% of Cortes households spend 30% or more of their income on housing. Page 2 shows that 47% of Cortes tenant households are paying more than 30% and that, unlike the national and provincial averages, Cortes renters pay more for housing than owners. Cortes housing costs are much lower than the BC/Canadian averages which directly correlates to the fact that incomes are also so much lower on Cortes. Page 3 shows that 7.5% of Cortes residents live in movable dwellings, higher than the regional average of 5.9%. Page 4 is all about affordability highlighting the need for rentals, affordable ownership, and seasonal worker accommodation. Recommendation: ‘To further increase zoning diversity to support affordable housing provision, a draft small home pad park could be developed.’