Saanich’s newly appointed Housing Strategy task force will begin developing the municipality’s new approach to housing issues on Sept. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich Housing Strategy task force to start tackling the issue this month

Task force hopes to meet more than seven times before new year hits

Saanich’s Housing Strategy task force is ready to get to work.

In June, council finalized the terms of reference for its housing strategy and voted to establish a task force of community stakeholders to develop the plan. On Sept. 24, the group meets for the first time at municipal hall – while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols – to begin the process of developing a preliminary housing strategy.

The task force’s 17 members – joined by two members of council and the mayor – were appointed by council on Aug. 24 and were initially scheduled to attend their first meeting on Sept. 17, said Coun. Zac de Vries, chair of the task force. That introductory meeting was delayed as lining up a facilitator took longer than expected.

The first meeting takes place in person, which de Vries feels is important as “the group is going to be working really hard together” and need to get to know one another for “effective” collaboration. Future meetings will be a hybrid of electronic and in-person meetings.

After meeting one another and going over the terms of reference, the task force will begin the work of “taking a critical look at Saanich’s housing context and policies” and strategies for improvement, de Vries explained. The goal is to have at least seven meetings before the end of January. The end result will be a preliminary housing strategy report submitted to council for consideration. The public would have an opportunity to weigh-in at that time.

De Vries is hopeful the fresh approach to housing in Saanich will be successful. Individual task force members will be announced shortly will two positions yet to be filled: the Capital Regional District representative and the First Nations representative.

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