The need for more affordable housing is top of mind for people in Nanaimo; as your MLAs, it’s our priority too. That’s why we are building affordable housing and working with all levels of government to find solutions. Everyone needs to play a part.
We have been working to make housing more affordable and accessible, including through our Homes for BC plan, we’re creating more student housing, and housing for people who’d have currently unmet complex care needs.
Since 2017, our government has been working to improve access to affordable housing for people in Nanaimo. We’ve invested in thousands of affordable homes in Nanaimo, with 650 already built, including affordable homes for seniors, overnight shelters, women’s transitional housing, housing with supports for those experiencing long-term homelessness, and culturally-informed housing for Indigenous people who are housing insecure, and over 900 more underway. We’ll be creating 266 new beds at Vancouver Island University with a new student housing facility, which will begin construction next year. This will get more students into secure housing, freeing up off-campus housing for other renters.
With the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, we’ve turned thousands of vacant properties into homes in taxable areas, including here in Nanaimo. And now we have expanded the tax to include North Cowichan, and other nearby communities, which will help add housing supply in our region.
People who are unhoused often have additional health and mental health needs that may not currently be met. We’re working with Island Health and BC Housing to create new complex-care spaces in Nanaimo, to get people facing these challenges the care and housing they need.
While stigma and discrimination have contributed to challenges in finding a building to lease for a Navigation Centre that will serve the needs of our community members, BC Housing is now exploring a potential temporary modular building on vacant land. This centre will provide individualized care and support for people experiencing homelessness in our community. There will be more news on this to come, but we know there is an urgent need for this Navigation Centre, and our government is bringing all partners together to find a way forward. As a partner in this, the City of Nanaimo plays a key role in finding locations and properties and advancing required permits.
We know when people have secure housing, they are able to access the services and health supports they need to live more stable, healthy lives, which benefits everyone in the community. After the impacts of the pandemic which have made homelessness worse, we’re all ready for positive change. That’s why we are working to bring all partners together to find a way forward that meets the needs of people in Nanaimo who require safe and affordable housing while supporting the community as a whole. This involves work at all levels of government, and we are committed to continuing to work with our municipal counterparts to get this right.
These are just some of the steps we’ve taken and while they have made a difference, there is more to do. The housing crisis requires ongoing, collaborative work with partners, including our municipal partners. We look forward to the addition of complex care services, student housing, and more affordable housing options, which will provide a much-needed boost to our supply of homes. We will keep working hard to serve these needs in our community.
MLAs Sheila Malcolmson, Doug Routley, and Adam Walker