Avoiding the word “still” in headlines is a time-honoured goal among newspaper folk. It’s not easy, particularly when the déjà vu lately is so strong it could lift the Parliament buildings.
Consider the story we have at Drake Road: there’s a proposed housing project that’s stalled, campers moved onto the five-acre parcel there in the interim, they were made to leave, and the project still continues to languish. If the story from recent weeks sounds familiar, it’s because we told it (and many of you read it) in 2016. And we’re still unable to write a conclusion.
Seven years ago, it was a proposed 80-unit Capital Regional District (CRD) project that stalled at Drake Road, not a 28-unit BC Housing one. The campers then were twice the number, and were asked to leave during a particularly dry October after (but not, according to staff, because of) a stump fire brought firefighters and apparatus to extinguish a blaze at the property.
The languishing project of the day was for affordable, rather than supportive, housing; and it began falling apart in early planning stages largely because of drinking water availability issues, rather than the surface-water-rich riparian environment complexities that seems to have vexed BC Housing’s first round of contractors.
Salt Spring’s Point in Time homeless count this summer came in with a 15 per cent increase over the previous year, a number that is stubbornly rising as islanders continue to face a housing affordability crisis that has been advancing inexorably for decades and turned up to “high” since the pandemic.
Back in 2022, the enthusiasm of provincial housing ministry officials seemed boundless; it still seems the same way today. We’ve opined in this space about the disconnect between the provincial government’s messaging and reality before, and as BC Housing thanks the community for their patience during the latest “unexpected” delay, we can only ask whether there are any Salt Spring Islanders left with patience remaining, or any who were actually surprised.