A couple speaking with Marc Doll in front of his election booth

How Marc Doll wants to tackle the housing crisis in Area C

In the second of a series of articles outlining what he would like to bring to Area C if elected Regional Director, Marc Doll spoke about tackling the housing crisis.

He began by pointing out the solutions are not easy. 

“The principle that I’m standing on is that one person, me or anybody else holding the Regional Director position, isn’t in a place to be able to say, ‘okay, this is what we want to fight for.’ Whether it be a vacancy tax, some type of licensing for Airbnbs, or how we approach development, these decisions are more complicated than  any one person sitting on a small committee can come to any conclusion on. Every one of these examples has a downside,” explained Doll.

“The only way forward is for that discussion to be had within communities. So that the community says, ‘we understand that we’ve examined the downsides, but this is the way that we Quadra Island, or Read Island and SNCA (Surge Narrows Community Association), or Cortes believe is the path forward.’” 

He added, “Having it preached from on high by any one person is not going to get the buy-in that is going to be required.”

Quadra Island is currently losing its workforce. According to the Rural Housing Needs Report, it shrank 16% between 2016 and 2021. Doll believes the actual number is probably closer to 25%.

The only growing demographic is people over the age of 65. The percentage of people under 64 is decreasing. 

“Vibrant communities, communities that function, need all age demographics. You need an active workforce, young families, kids to populate your school. You need all ages across the board,” said Doll. 

“Right now what’s happening, since we aren’t organized to grab the wheel and start steering our own future, is crucial decisions are just being left up to market forces.”

He pointed to some highly desirable islands that have already lost the sense of community that Quadra Island still possess: Bowen Island, Salt Spring Island, land Bainbridge Island in the United States. 

“I can name a long list of highly active, highly involved Quadra or Area C residents, that have lost their home. They could not find a new one here and have been forced to move off of the island where they would otherwise choose to be. This is the reality that we are living in right now,” continued Doll.  

What housing costs and the percentage of renters that can afford it in 2015 and 2020 – Electoral Area C: Electoral Areas Housing Needs Report

“We aren’t organized as a population, as a community, to take on this challenge and say, ‘what do we need to stop this gutting of our communities from happening so that we don’t end up becoming just an island full of vacation rentals,  a retirement or vacation paradise without a living vibrant community attached to it?’ That is the path that we’re on without coming together and getting organized and putting forward a vision looking towards how we want to develop the island.”

“We need to get a hold of that wheel,  start steering our communities together as a community, and act politically together. We need to have these discussions, and have a venue for these discussions together.”

The other aspect of this discussion is the Quadra Island Official Community Plan (OCP) is out of date. 

“It was an amazing document, but since it was written over 10 years ago, there’s a lot of things that we have learned on Quadra that are stopping this vision of the OCP from coming to fruition,” said Doll. 

“This, again, is something that one person is not going to be able to decide, how this island needs to go forward. We need that venue for people to come together and decide what our new path is.” 

“What have we learned since our OCP was put in? What alterations do we need to make to that OCP to make sure that we have housing for middle income seniors – because there is nothing currently if you have a middle income senior that is living on 10 acres. When they hit that age that they can no longer take care of that garden and all the work that 10 acres encompasses, they have no choice really to stay on this island.”

“Those are the type of discussions that definitely need  to start happening. We need to start planning to maintain people who want to continue living here. We need to be able to encourage development, the building of things that keep our community alive on these islands.”

Links of Interest

Top image credit: Marc Doll speaking with two voters – Photo courtesy Empower Community website

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