Seniors’ housing being constructed near Nanaimo’s Bowen Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

Seniors’ housing being constructed near Nanaimo’s Bowen Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

Regional District of Nanaimo board reverses plan to develop regional housing strategy

RDN will save $98,000 on consulting fees

The Regional District of Nanaimo board has decided not to continue its plan to develop a regional housing strategy.

The RDN’s financial plan had budgeted a total of $98,000 to pay a consultant to design a regional housing strategy and for the social needs assessment report for the region. But at a committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 7, Nanoose Bay director Bob Rogers made a motion to remove the line item from the 2022 budget.

Rogers acknowledged housing is a challenging issue, but pointed out the board has already received a housing needs assessment.

“I think we are better positioned … to focus on the development and delivery of a sustainable financial plan utilizing these funds in some other means and in some other responsibilities as a regional district,” he said.

Parksville director Ed Mayne indicated there’s no place in Canada that has ever come up with a successful strategy to address the housing issue.

“We have copious reports already done…” he said. “They have the same answers that we’re going to get from the same consultants that are coming. It is just a big circle.”

Mayne said it’s not a good use of taxpayer money. He suggested the fund could be better applied in finding ways to reduce the time frames to process building permits.

“Our money should be spent for the benefit of our people and this isn’t it,” said Mayne. “We are not social providers for our residents. The province is and the federal government is. Let’s let them do their jobs and let’s do ours and provide the services we’re supposed to provide.”

READ ALSO: Housing affordability isn’t keeping up with Regional District of Nanaimo’s growth

Gabriola Island director Vanessa Craig was not in favour of the m0tion.

“We’re in a crisis in this region, well, across the province, realistically – we’re focused on this region. This is an issue,” she said. We’ve already allocated the staff time and the funding. This isn’t new funding that we’re asking in 2022. We’ve already identified it. Why wouldn’t we close the loop and actually see if there is something we can do to address the situation?”

Nanaimo director Erin Hemmens agreed with Craig and expressed a desire to see the project completed.

“If we don’t close the loop, you risk having incomplete data … Clear data is how we’re going to make the best decisions,” Hemmens said.

The board passed the motion.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach considers spending $50K on consultant to develop town housing plan

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