It has been a busy month working to create affordable housing on Salt Spring.
After a year of exploring what is required to put a water system in place for Dragonfly Commons, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot continue on the path we are on. We find it necessary to change the model of Dragonfly Commons from home ownership to rental.
The Water Sustainability Act which was instituted in 2016 makes it virtually impossible to create a subdivision in a rural area where there is not a Water Utility in place to supply water. Unfortunately due to the moratorium on new hook ups imposed by North Salt Spring Waterworks, we fall into that category.
The Act, administered by FLNRO, requires that any new subdivision with more than three owners from a single water source must operate as a Water Utility or a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) . The requirements to become a CPCN are extremely onerous, starting with a deposit of $500,000 – $2,000,000 and continuing with extremely demanding as well as expensive management and reporting requirements.
These are the same requirements that a water system supplying a city such as Vancouver or Victoria would be expected to meet. They are currently treating four hook ups the same as four million with no flexibility. It is likely that in the future this will change but for the foreseeable future our project and other small projects trying to produce affordable home-ownership are quashed.
Fortunately we do have an alternative – and that is to go from home ownership to rental. This will allow us to avoid the CPCN requirements because, even though there would be 30 homes, they would be owned by one entity. There are still water challenges to overcome but we feel they are manageable.
Even though we are sad to abandon the idea of affordable home ownership for workers there are advantages to pursuing affordable workforce rental accommodations. First of all, they are needed every bit as much and secondly, there are far more grants available which will mean that they will be even more affordable. Another advantage is that the homes would be a secure long-term rental situation, without the worry of a landlord selling. Finally there is the advantage of not requiring to subdivide the property which should speed things up.
With this change and the support that we are receiving from the Islands Trust we feel that it is not unreasonable to be able to commence construction in the spring of 2019.
Tami and Fernando Dos Santos
on behalf of Dragonfly Commons Housing Society