We are excited to announce that Dragonfly Commons, after a long period of hibernation, is finally starting to make significant progress on our affordable housing project. It has been a dispiritingly slow couple of years but things have really started to happen, as you will see from the contents of this update.
After having been in FLNRORD limbo/hell for many years…for those of you who do not know, that is Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. And yes, they are as slow as their name is long. They have finally granted us a Water Licence to use the water from the two high-yield wells on our property for our project.
However, and there is always a “however” in the affordable housing world, a Water Licence only constitutes part of the solution to developing the water system. The other part involves becoming a Private Water Utility which is a very onerous and expensive process, beyond the means of affordable housing projects.
Luckily North Salt Spring Waterworks District, NSSWD, has stepped up to the plate and as a result we have a way forward. By partnering with NSSWD, we can avoid having to become a Private Water Utility. Unfortunately in order for NSSWD to own our water system, they need to update their protocols and bylaws, and there is a significant cost for them to do so and Dragonfly needs to bear this cost.
Fortunately we have a potential solution to that problem as well. We are applying for a CMHC grant program entitled “CMHC Housing Supply Challenge” with NSSWD as a very supportive sub-applicant. The first stage of the grant will award up to $75,000 to 30 applicants from across the country. These funds are to be used over a 6-month period for pre-development costs and will pay for NSSWD to develop their bylaws and protocols so as to be able to own Dragonfly’s water system. In addition, the 30 successful applicants will have access to a pool of 38 million dollars to be used over a two-year period for development costs. We will find out sometime in October whether we are successful with our grant application. This grant is a potential game-changer for Dragonfly Commons, NSSWD and affordable housing on the island.
Having our Water Licence has also meant that we were in a position to enter into discussions with the Islands Trust and the planning department to find the best possible way to proceed with our rezoning application. It was agreed that changing our application from a bare-land strata to a “building strata” would streamline and expedite matters by allowing the decision-making process to remain local in the hands of our very supportive Local Trust Committee instead of the very indifferent MOTI, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
We are pleased to announce that this newly-revised rezoning bylaw passed First Reading with flying colours, on July 27th at the LTC meeting. This is a big step and provides momentum to continue our work on this project. We would like to thank our planners Geordie Gordon and Stefan Cermak for their work and Trustees Laura Patrick and Peter Grove for their ongoing enthusiastic support, it means a lot to us. The project will now be referred out to various agencies and First Nations groups.
One final piece of exciting news is that we are in the news and also are the news. On July 3rd, 2021, Capital Daily, an innovative and increasingly popular online news site, published an extensive exposé about the affordable housing crisis on Salt Spring, detailing how the inability of housing projects to set up water systems is the primary barrier to affordable housing on the island. Dragonfly Commons efforts to resolve this issue are prominently featured in the article, as are our board members Kisae Petersen and her work with IWAV’s Croftonbrook project as well as Rhonan’s Heitzmann’s efforts to alleviate the housing crisis on the island working with the advocacy group Salt Spring Solutions.
In conclusion, we want to thank our dedicated Board of Directors for their hard work and never say die attitude. We appreciate your positive attitude and enthusiasm. Shout out to Kisae Petersen, Robin Williams, Ron Cooke and Rhonan Heitzmann.
Tami and Fernando Dos Santos
p.s. if you know of anyone who would like to be added to this email list, please let us know at dragonflycommons at gmail dot com