AN OPEN INVITATION TO CHAMBER MEMBERS
As you are no doubt aware, one of the significant challenges facing Peninsula businesses is the availability of reasonably priced local housing for their employees. This is clearly an important issue for both large and small businesses on the Peninsula and one the Chamber is taking the initiative on in working towards a solution. To that end we have established the Workforce Housing Initiative chaired by Ian Brown, a local business owner and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
There are a host of reasons as to why this issue is important. The lack of workforce housing on the Peninsula means that employees must bear the added cost of commuting from other parts of the region, employers have difficulty attracting the talented and skilled employees they need as workers decline job offers in favour of those in other parts of the Island where housing costs are lower, retailers in Sidney, Saanichton, Brentwood Bay and Keating lose out on customers and sales as people normally shop close to where they live, the local municipalities are missing out on potential tax revenues and our young men, women and families are leaving the area in search of housing they can afford, to mention a few.
Your Chamber has been working with local businesses in creating awareness within the Municipal Councils with respect to the importance of this issue. We are very impressed with the proposed changes to the zoning bylaws in the Town of Sidney, but there is still some reluctance in moving workforce housing to the top of list of local priorities throughout the region. While the Councils feel that Workforce Housing is a laudable cause their approach to date has been to offer stop-gap measures by allowing secondary suites and prompting BC Transit to add a few more routes. These measures, we feel, are not enough. Secondary suites will not alleviate the problem and our discussions with BC Transit lead us to believe that new routes on the Peninsula targeted at the business districts are not going to happen in the foreseeable future.
So we are looking to you for support in helping us further this cause with our local Municipal Councils. We would like to invite you to join us on February 27th at 7:00pm when the North Saanich Council is holding a ‘Committee of the Whole’ meeting to discuss how to approach the issue of what we refer to as Workforce housing. It’s a public meeting and an ideal opportunity to show our elected leaders just how much business community support there is for Workforce Housing. We hope to see you there.
If you are unable to attend this meeting then please consider joining us on February 20th at 7:30 am at the Institute of Ocean Sciences for the Chamber’s annual Mayor’s Breakfast.
If you have any questions or require further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or Ian Brown.
Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce