The political battle over housing affordability is heating up everywhere in Canada, and from the federal budget to the Tory leadership race, solutions are being floated. But affordability can (and does) exist–it’s just unevenly distributed.
Local planning decisions usually make all the difference. On Vancouver Island, Esquimalt and Langford stand out as examples of forward-thinking urbanism and community-building.
These are cities that emphasize density, active transportation, and mixed-use neighbourhoods that make for complete, livable communities. They exemplify a move towards the “YIMBY” attitude gaining popularity online with younger generations.
The YIMBY movement, short for ‘Yes in My Backyard’, prizes building more homes for people as a way to bring housing costs down and create more vibrant neighbourhoods rather than more sprawl. It’s a movement that asks why up to 70% urban land is zoned for single-family homes, effectively excluding all (and everyone) else.
As constraints like these are chipped away at, there are signs of progress. In Esquimalt, a new development is under construction that has targeted affordable housing from the start. At The Proxima, starter suites begin at just under $400k, with a wide range of units for all levels of incomes and buyers, from students to families.
What’s interesting about this project is that it will deliver this without leaning on government subsidies or affordability mandates. Clever project design and Esquimalt’s forward-looking attitude to urban community planning play a big part in delivering affordable units for first-time buyers.
The building is pet- and rental-friendly, with allowances for both built into the agreements, and puts a focus on sustainability with walkability, car-sharing, and electric vehicle wiring for every parking spot.