After all the conversations on Facebook, over email and in coffee shops last week, I have a proposal that will continue or even increase funding to the City of Victoria’s Housing Trust Fund at the same time as working to meet the property tax cap that Council set unanimously in April. I’ve built affordable housing in this City as a volunteer at Fernwood NRG and I know it’s important. I also know the importance of keeping property taxes low, not for the mere sake of doing so, but because continual sharp tax hikes increase the cost of living for those least able to pay, namely seniors, young families and many people who rent.
I thank all of you who have contributed to the conversation and to this proposal. Drafting public policy through Facebook and Twitter conversations, via email exchanges and in coffee shops is a radical departure from the status quo. And it’s a necessary departure if we are to re-create together a functional and vibrant democracy.
A few weeks ago a resident sent me a link to this Ted talk, Why Democracy Matters,by British MP Rory Stewart. He says, “If local democracy is to flourish it is about the active and informed engagement of every citizen. If democracy is to be rebuilt, if it is to become again vigorous and vibrant, it is not just necessary for the public to trust their politicians, but for the politicians to learn to trust the public.” This past week in Victoria we have seen this process in action.
Here’s the motion I’ll be bringing to Council this Thursday evening:
WHEREAS the City is committed to ending homelessness and leveraging the monies in its Housing Trust Fund to help ensure the creation of affordable housing in the City;
AND WHEREAS a year-over-year contribution of tax dollars to the Housing Trust Fund is not sustainable for the City or its taxpayers, concerned about the increasing cost of living for all its residents;
AND WHEREAS the City has recently passed its Official Community Plan, which is based on a Village Centre Land Use plan which anticipates density in village centres outside of the boundaries of the Downtown Core Area Plan;
AND WHEREAS the City already has a Density Bonus program in place;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City create a Bonus Density policy to be implemented January 1st 2014 for all areas of the City outside those described in the Downtown Core Area plan whereby 75% of Bonus Density monies accrued by the City’s Bonus Density Program be allocated to the City’s Housing Trust Fund and 25% of monies be allocated to improve public realm elements in areas outside those described in the Downtown Core Area Plan;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED when the monies accrued from the City’s new Bonus Density Policy meet or exceed $150,000 per year, the City cease its yearly transfer of $150,000 in taxpayer dollars to the Housing Trust Fund. Until then, the City continue its $150,000 per year contribution.