woman standing in front of an RV, numerous sealed containers in front of her. tubs

Mawhinney identifies housing as the #1 issue in Area C

Robyn Mawhinney identified housing as the #1 issue in this upcoming October 15 election.

“There are already two levels of government, federal and provincial, which are working on housing. I’m not sure that we can ever completely solve it, but it’s really important that we tackle it and there’s many small shifts that could happen,” explained the candidate for Regional Director in Area C.

Robyn Mawhinney – submitted photo
Map of Electoral Area C – Courtesy SRD website

“We’re going to require community engagement and community buy-in so that we can agree what type of development is adequate and appropriate for our community. We really need to be mindful of local resources, the diverse economic needs of our community and maintaining our unique rural nature.”

While funding for affordable housing comes from the Provincial and Federal government, Mawhinney outlined steps communities can make: 

  • Cooperative housing models, land trusts, seniors housing clusters.
  • ‘How can we integrate tiny homes into our island?’
  • ‘Float houses are a historic piece of coastal culture.’

“My mom and her seven siblings were raised on a float house in Blackfish Sound. Once upon a time, I lived on a float house in Gowland Harbour. Right here in Quathiaski Cove we have a waterfront location with access to the sewer system. Yes, it would require community meetings and changing our community plan, our village plan, but it would provide a place for legal long term live aboard homes.”

There are concerns about the ability of Quadra Island’s aquifer to substantial development.

Mawhinney expressed appreciation for Quadra ICAN’s research into the island’s aquifer.

“I think that learning about our water resource is a very important piece of looking at our development and sustainability, because we don’t want to end up in a place like we see other communities where their water resources are not there and the community is thirsty. I think that there are definitely opportunities for the regional district to be involved in learning and studying the water resources of the South part of Quadra Island to really work together with the community to gain that understanding so that we can know what we have.”

There are an estimated 200 homes on Cortes Island that are vacant most of the year. This suggests there are probably a large number on Quadra as well.

She has read that the province’s speculation and vacancy tax has added 20,000 housing units to the long term rental market in BC. So far islands have been excluded, but Mawhinney can see working with other island directors to change this. 

“The vacant home numbers for Quadra and Area C are unknown to me.  I actually asked a realtor recently on Quadra, she didn’t know the number either,” responded Mawhinney. 

Regarding Short Term Vacation Rentals, “I’m not sure which solution works best for Quadra. I’m definitely keen to facilitate a community conversation and ask. Are there bylaws that we should consider? What, as a community, makes sense for us? As a tourism community, we support folks that have purpose built vacation rentals, but also allow for long term housing,” she said. 

“There is pretty much a zero vacancy rate here. It affects everybody in our community from business owners, to elders, to families. There’s a lot of youth in the community who don’t have a place to live and they’re living in RVs or tents if they want to be here.  I myself have an adult daughter who’s working full time and living in an RV on my land because there’s nowhere for her live. I know people that are valuable community members who work hard and have had their children in the school here, and they’ve had to leave because there is nowhere for them to live and that really hurts.”

House prices vs affordability – Electoral Area C, Electoral Areas Housing Needs Report

House prices have increased over 66% over the past decade, and wages are not keeping up.  

The median age on Quadra is currently 57 and with more and more young people leaving because they cannot find accommodation, the principal demographic that is increasing is people over 65.  

Yet as people age, they often find they cannot keep up the maintenance on their property. Mawhinney has heard of elders on both Quadra and Read Islands who have had to leave their homes for retirement living in urban areas. 

In tomorrow’s broadcast, Mawhinney describes how the housing crisis is impacting paramedics and ferry workers. 

Top image credit: Living in an RV by Krista via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Sign-up for Cortes Currents email-out:

To receive an emailed catalogue of articles on Cortes Currents, send a (blank) email to subscribe to your desired frequency: