Affordability is an important issue in the 2018 municipal election. Many lower- and middle-income households spend more than they can afford on housing and transportation, leaving insufficient money to spend on other essential goods such as food and healthcare. Solving this problem requires local policy changes which increase development of affordable housing types (secondary suites, multiplexes, townhouses and low-rise apartments) in walkable urban neighborhoods. This will require municipal government action.
To help voters evaluate candidates’ positions on affordability, Cities for Everyone surveyed mayor and city council candidates in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay. Of 93 candidates contacted we received 31 completed surveys. We also analyzed candidates’ websites and interviews, and incumbents’ voting records (see graph below), and their electability based on name recognition and the quality of their campaign. This column summarizes our results (click here for PDF version).
This graph compares infill development approval ratings. More infill tends to increase middle-income affordability.
The following tables show information sources consulted, electability assessment, overall affordability rating (A is best) and notes for mayoral and council candidates in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.
Victoria Mayoral Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Saul Anderson||None||Low||D||No information available.|
|Rob Duncan||Survey||Moderate||A||Supports strategies to increase affordable infill.|
|Michael Geoghegan||Survey||High||A||Supports strategies to increase affordable infill.|
|Stephen Hammond||Interview||High||C||Favors protecting neighborhoods. No specific affordability policies.|
|Lisa Helps||Survey, Interview||High||A||Supports affordable policies. High infill approval record (95%).|
|David A. Johnston||Survey||Low||C||Considers affordability a low priority.|
|Bruce McGuigan||Survey, Interview||Low||D||Opposes infill. No specific affordability plan.|
|RyMo||None||Low||D||No useful information available.|
|Alexander Schmid||None||Low||D||No affordability plan.|
|Krysztof Zmuda||None||Low||D||No affordability plan.|
Victoria Council Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Gary Alberts||None||Medium||D||No affordability plan.|
|Marianne Alto||Plan||High||A||Multi-facetted affordability plan. High (95%) development approval rating.|
|Stephen Andrew||None||Medium||D||No affordability plan.|
|Darlene Archibald||None||Low||D||No affordability plan.|
|Laurel Collins||Survey, Plan||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Sharmarke Dubow||Survey, Plan||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Steve Filipovic||Survey||Low||B||Supports some affordability strategies.|
|Marg Gardiner||Survey||Medium||C||Favors protecting neighborhoods from infill.|
|Riga Godron||None||Low||D||No specific affordability plan.|
|James Harasymow||None||Low||D||Proposes “nano-housing” and increased parking.|
|Rose Henry||None||Low||No information available.|
|Ben Isitt||Survey||High||B||Supports low-income affordability, but poor infill development approval record (63%).|
|Jesse Jimenez||None||Low||No information available.|
|Randie Johal||None||Medium||C||No specific affordability plan.|
|Edison Kahakauwila||None||Low||No information available.|
|Anna King||None||Medium||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Sean Leitenberg||Survey||Medium||B||Supports inclusionary zoning, some infill, and other development costs reduction strategies.|
|Grace Lore||Survey||High||A||Strong commitment to affordable infill, particularly for families.|
|Jeremy Loveday||Survey||High||A||Supports affordable infill. Has a moderate (76%) infill development approval record.|
|Pam Madoff||None||High||D||No specific affordability plan, and poor (55%) infill development approval record.|
|Delmar Martay||None||Low||No information available.|
|Sarah Potts||Survey, Plan||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Andrew Reeve||Survey||Medium||A||Supports infill and other affordable infill policies.|
|Jordan Reichert||None||Medium||B||Supports various affordability strategies|
|Ted Smith||None||Medium||C||Supports high density on the Douglas Street corridor.|
|Doug Stewart||None||Low||No information available.|
|William Tate||None||Low||No information available.|
|Charlayne Thornton-Joe||Survey||High||A||Supports infill and affordability strategies. Moderate (71%) development approval record.|
|Geoff Young||None||High||D||No specific affordability plan and very poor (50%) infill development approval record.|
Saanich Mayoral Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Richard Atwell||None||High||B||Supports “smart densification,” faster project approvals, and legalizing secondary suites.|
|Fred Haynes||Survey||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|David Shebib||None||Low||No information available.|
|Rob Wickson||Survey||High||A||Supports affordable housing strategies.|
Saanich Council Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Benjamin Allan||Survey||Medium||A||Supports infill and reduced parking requirements.|
|Trevor Barry||Survey||Medium||A||Supports infill and reduced parking requirements.|
|Susan Brice||None||High||B||Supports affordable housing in walkable urban villages. No specific policies.|
|Judy Brownoff||None||High||B||Supports infill in Centres, Villages and Corridors.|
|Kathleen Burton||None||Medium||B||Supports “smart densification.”|
|Nathalie Chambers||Survey||Medium||B||Supports low-income affordability strategies.|
|Zac de Vries||Survey||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Karen Harper||None||Medium||B||Supports “smart densification.”|
|Ian Jessop||None||Medium||B||Supports “smart densification.”|
|Vernon Lord||None||Low||C||Concerned about homelessness, but has no plans to address other affordability issues.|
|Rebecca Mersereau||Survey||High||A||Supports for infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Cory Montgomery||None||Medium||B||Supports “smart densification.”|
|Shawn Newby||Survey||Medium||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Teale Phelps Bondaroff||Survey||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Colin Plant||Survey||High||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
|Art Pollard||Survey||Medium||B||Supports more student and rental housing, and examining secondary suite policies.|
|Rishi Sharma||None||Low||B||Supports plan to consider more affordable options.|
|Ned Taylor||Survey||Medium||A||Supports infill and other affordability strategies.|
Oak Bay Mayoral Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Nils Jensen||Survey||High||C||Supports modest infill.|
|Kevin Murdoch||None||High||B||Supports a municipal plan to increase housing options.|
Oak Bay Council Candidates Affordability Evaluation
|Andrew Appleton||Survey||Medium||B||Supports “gentle density,” particularly in village areas.|
|Hazel Braithwaite||None||High||C||Supports only modest infill.|
|Anton Brakhage||None||Medium||A||Supports more affordable housing options.|
|Cairine Green||Survey||Medium||C||Primarily concerned with protecting neighborhoods.|
|Isabella Lee||None||Medium||B||Supports affordability, but has no specific plans.|
|Tara Ney||Survey||High||B||Supports allowing more secondary suites and duplexes.|
|Esther Paterson||None||Medium||C||No goals or plans for increasing affordability.|
|Andrew Stinson||Survey||Medium||A||Supports affordable infill housing strategies.|
|Ronald Telfer||None||Low||No information available.|
|Eric Zhelka||Survey||High||C||Supports only modest infill.|
When it comes to affordability policies, Candidates tend to fall into four general categories:
- Comprehensive affordability. Support policies that allow more compact infill in residential neighborhoods to increase low- and moderate-income affordability.
- Low-income affordability. Focus on subsidizing and mandating below-market housing to increase affordability for people with low incomes and special housing needs.
- “Protect neighborhoods.” Oppose neighborhood change and therefore affordable infill.
- Unconcerned or unclear. Indicate little concern or provide little information about affordability.
The distinction between comprehensive and low-income affordability is important because there are often trade-offs between these goals. Some policies intended to increase low-income affordability can reduce middle-income affordability, for example, if inclusionary zoning increases moderate-priced housing costs, or housing demolition prohibitions prevent development of larger buildings. Comprehensive affordability advocates support diverse infill housing, including some that is initially too costly for low-income households but increases affordability through filtering, as some low-priced housing occupants move into the new middle-priced units, and over time as the new homes depreciate.
The table below categorizes candidates’ apparent affordability priorities. Voters can use this information to select candidates that reflect their values. Overall, younger candidates tend to place higher value on affordability, while older candidates tend to be more concerned with minimizing change, but there are, of course, exceptions.
Candidates Categorized by Their Affordability Priorities
|Comprehensive Affordability||Low-income Affordability||“Protect Neighborhoods”||Unconcerned or Unclear|
|Mayor||Lisa Helps||Rob Duncan||Stephen Hammond||Saul Anderson|
|Marianne Alto||Steve Filipovic||Marg Gardiner||Gary Alberts|
|Mayor||Fred Haynes||Richard Atwell||David Shebib|
|Benjamin Allan||Nathalie Chambers||Kathleen Burton|
|Mayor||Kevin Murdoch||Nils Jensen|
|Andrew Appleton||Cairine Green||Esther Paterson|
Candidates tend to fit into one of four general affordability policy categories. This information can help voters choose the candidates who will best represent their priorities.
Below are additional questions to ask candidates concerning their affordability priorities.
Examples of Affordability Questions to Ask Candidates
- Do you support strategies to increase both low- and middle-income affordability?
- What will you do to ensure that any household that wants can find suitable housing in a walkable urban neighbourhood?
- Do you support affordable travel options (walking, bicycling and public transit)? How?
- Would you support infill development that is consistent with the Official Community Plan (OCP) but opposed by some neighbours?
Of course, there are other factors to consider when choosing which candidates to support. Most voters have other concerns, besides affordability. To influence results it is best to choose candidates that are electable, and will be accessible and effective policy makers.
Please let us know what you think. For questions or comments contact firstname.lastname@example.org.