Economic Development Cowichan recently hosted a series of invite-only workshops to discuss targetted workforce housing solutions for Cowichan: short-term rental regulations, a potential Cowichan housing authority, and accelerated workforce housing solutions. Feedback from the workshops will be used to further refine these solutions in a Cowichan context.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is developing a Workforce Housing Strategy, to come up with actions for increasing housing availability and affordability for the labour force. The Strategy will identify and prioritize actions for implementation by organizations across the broader housing ecosystem, including non-profits, for profit developers, employers, government, and others. Economic Development Cowichan is leading this project on behalf of the CVRD, with support from Cowichan Housing Association and CitySpaces Consulting.
The project includes several rounds of engagement, the first of which was a series of Issues and Opportunities Workshops held in January and February. Following this series and additional one-on-one engagement with key stakeholders, four primary themes emerged to form the scope of the Workforce Housing Strategy project:
- Regional Workforce Housing Policy Guidelines: Research on the types of housing needed by workers in key industries (e.g. healthcare, construction, tourism, and agriculture) to inform policy development that could support and enable the delivery of these housing forms.
- Accelerated Housing Solutions: Look at tools that can be used to quickly deliver workforce housing units to the market while longer-term solutions are being put in place, such as temporary use permits or modular construction.
- Short-Term Rental Regulations: Discussions around the implications of regulating the short-term rental market, balancing the needs of worker housing and the tourism industry.
- Housing Authority: Explore the role, structure/model, funding, partnerships and impact of the creation of a housing authority for the Cowichan region.
In May, we hosted three workshops to explore themes 2 through 4 in more depth with specific groups of stakeholders representing a broad range of perspectives. For a summary of what we heard during our workshop series, download the report here. The feedback we received from participants will guide further research and refinement of these solutions in advance of drafting the Workforce Housing Strategy.
Note: it was determined that Theme 1 did not require stakeholder consultation during this phase, as it is largely a research exercise.