Sunday, December 10, 2023
December 10, 2023

Local data helps inform housing solutions

Submitted by Salt Spring Solutions

Salt Spring Solutions is a group of community volunteers with professional expertise in statistical analysis, large datasets and public policy planning.

We have been analyzing and reporting on the 2021 Census results for over a year. Here is some of what we have learned.

Finding #1

Finding #2

Salt Spring Island is losing its renters.

• Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of households on Salt Spring that were rentals dropped by 23 per cent.

• In 2021, the island’s population of rental households was less than 19 per cent and significantly below the provincial average of 33 per cent .

zandoyo bed & breakfast

• The disappearance and displacement of renters means we’re seeing a loss of demographic diversity, a lack of inclusion, and shrinkage of our local workforce.

• A mix of different housing types, including rental, ensures social and economic diversity, inclusion, and a viable workforce on the island. This is a clearly stated objective in our Official Community Plan.

Finding #3

Salt Spring Island is one of the province’s most unaffordable places to be a renter.

• Approximately 425 of the 945 renter households on Salt Spring pay an unaffordable amount of their monthly income for housing, with 30 per cent or more of their total household income going towards rent and utilities.

• Within that group, many renters are paying well over 50 per cent of their monthly income, which is described as a “crisis-level” amount.

Housing unaffordability disproportionately affects rental households

• In 2021, almost half of the renter households on Salt Spring Island spent 30% or more of their income on shelter, which makes this one of the top 10% least affordable places to live in B.C.

• In contrast, only 20 per cent of owner households spent 30 per cent or more of their income on shelter, which shows that housing unaffordability disproportionately affects renters.

Finding #4

We collect and analyze monthly information from local ads for “available” and “wanted” rental housing. Here’s what we know:

• Average market rental rates have soared in the last few years.

• The people most deeply affected by the lack of availability and soaring costs of rentals are singles, single-parent households and couples without kids.

• The vacancy rate for long-term rentals on Salt Spring is effectively zero. There are always more people looking for housing than available rentals.

Salt Spring Solutions is advocating for open, respectful, fact-based dialogue and development of innovative policy solutions to our community’s challenges. We envision a resilient Salt Spring Island community that works together to equitably care for the ecology and the community as one. Join the conversation at


  1. This is sobering and makes clear the housing crisis on Salt Spring. However, I should point out that Finding #1 is perhaps a bit misleading… given that Salt Spring has a population size (~11,000 people) that is an order of magnitude greater than any of the other Gulf Islands, an 11% increase in population size would equate to over a thousand new residents. The other Gulf Islands have absolute population sizes that are much smaller, and so the big spike of 70% at Gambier, which has a population of only ~150 people, equates to an increase of perhaps 100 new residents. For Gambier, this is a marked increase, but when compared to Salt Spring it is much smaller. In absolute terms, lots of people are still moving to Salt Spring, which makes the issue of affordable housing all the more pressing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Other stories you might like

Opinion: Rationale for maintaining oval track shared

By RICHARD HAYDEN As the Portlock Park Master Plan is being developed it is clear many people see a perimeter pathway around the park as...

Christmas With Scrooge origins recounted

Sue Newman of Newman Family Productions sat down with Don Cunningham one afternoon recently, in preparation for the 50-plus birthday celebration since Christmas with...

GISS swimmers wrap up season in Nanaimo

By BRAD BUNYAN GISS SWIM TEAM COACH The GISS Scorpions Aquatics team wrapped up their season Nov. 16-17, with the provincial championships being held in Nanaimo...

Province files ‘unexplained wealth order’ for island property

A bit of ignoble legal history is being made on Salt Spring Island — and a pair of property owners have found themselves in...


Salt Spring Island
3.3 ° C
6.4 °
1.7 °
99 %
100 %
5 °
5 °
4 °
5 °
4 °