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Affordable housing in Victoria


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#3361 LJ

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Posted 20 February 2024 - 07:46 PM


Gwyn Morgan

February 6, 2024

“ Ottawa’s post-pandemic $300 billion spending orgy was coupled with the pompous claim to “Build Back Better”. As it happened, most of that spending was recklessly borrowed – stoking inflation – while Build Back Better was a dud, was discarded in embarrassment and, if recalled at all today, is told as a sick joke. Far too many planned projects now sink into a quicksand of political haggling, regulatory overkill, mission creep, design complexity and, if built at all, bungled execution. Looking at specific examples, Gwyn Morgan presents the lamentable results: far less is actually getting built across Canada, nearly everything takes forever and – worst of all – costs routinely soar to ludicrous levels. Added to that, Morgan notes, are woke-based criteria being imposed by the Trudeau government that are worsening the vicious cycle.”

 

Not so long ago, a $10 million government infrastructure project was regarded as a significant expenditure. Nowadays, $10 million doesn’t come close to funding projects as simple as a firehall or new police station. Here in the Victoria region, a new firehall in the District of Saanich, originally budgeted at $25.6 million, has jumped to nearly $45 million over four years – and construction has barely begun. The facility will support 10 firefighters. In the Langford District, the estimated cost of a new RCMP building is an incomprehensible $82 million – and of course, nothing has actually been done yet, so this price tag will surely soar. Just north of Victoria, the cost of what was to be a simple flyover eliminating a dangerous left turn across the busy Patricia Bay Highway has spiked from its original estimate of $44 million to $77 million.

These cost increases seem big to us here on “Fantasy Island”, but they would amount to a rounding error in mega-city Toronto. The Ontario Line, a 15.6-kilometre light-rail transit line connecting the Science Centre to Ontario Place, was budgeted at $10.9 billion when first announced in 2019. A series of updates have seen the cost balloon to an estimated $19 billion – an increase of more than 70 percent – with the completion date pushed out by four years to 2031. Expect more cost increases to be announced.

These are just a few examples of municipal and provincial cost increases and overruns. The story is similar from coast to coast, with no project type or size in any municipality or province immune to an unsettling syndrome that seems to prevent nearly anything from being planned cost-effectively and then delivered on budget. Obviously, the total for all such projects planned or underway across Canada is immensely higher – surely in the tens of billions of dollars.

Inset1.png
 

Mismanagement syndrome: From simple firehalls to subway sections to straightforward software, governments at all levels have lost control of costs. Replacing a small firehall in Saanich on Vancouver Island (top left and top right) will cost nearly $2,000 per square foot or $4.5 million per firefighter; the pricetag for Toronto’s planned Ontario Line (bottom left) has zoomed from $10.9 billion to $19 billion; and the notorious ArriveCAN (bottom right) consumed $54 million to deliver an $80,000 software tool. (Sources of images: (top left) District of Saanich; (top right) rendering courtesy of hcma, retrieved from naturally:wood; (bottom left) Metrolinx; (bottom right) WestJet/Facebook)

Now for the project mismanagement champion of all. Statistics Canada data show that federal capital infrastructure project expenditures totalled $24.1 billion in the period 2018-2021 (the most recent year for which figures are available). Given that Ottawa bureaucrats are famous for mismanaging virtually every project (think of the notorious ArriveCAN app, whose development blew through $54 million to yield a buggy software tool that private-sector geeks could have cranked out for $80,000), there can be no doubt that a lot of those billions were to pay for overruns resulting from a combination of sloppy design specifications and poor execution.

But now the Trudeau government has added costly “social justice” specifications to federal procurement requirements, including participation by ethnic minorities, disabled persons and diverse genders, plus other elements of woke ideology. These elements were clearly demonstrated in what I’ll call “The Great Helicopter Hangar Saga”. The following is a recollection from sources I know to be completely reliable.

The Canadian Forces’ 443 (Pacific) Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s hangar had been located adjacent to the Victoria Airport for many years. In November 2004, the Department of National Defence (DND) announced the award of a $1.8 billion contract for 28 Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, of which a number were to be based on Vancouver Island. A new hangar was required, which seems reasonable. DND engineers designed a facility that would meet the squadron’s needs at an estimated cost of roughly $18 million. Then they handed the project to Public Works and Government Services Canada. That’s when the project entered an ephemeral space resembling the old sci-fi TV series The Twilight Zone.

Elevators were ordered equipped with Braille at the control buttons plus voice recognition – along with full wheelchair accessibility. Members of the military joked that all these extras must be for the ‘blind and disabled pilots’. By the time the new hangar was handed back to the military, the DND’s $18 million project had skyrocketed to a staggering $155 million.

 

Public Works decided the hangar needed to be able to “sustain operations” in the event of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake – an incomprehensible decision for several reasons. First, 8.0 on the Richter Scale is seven times larger than the most severe earthquake ever recorded on Vancouver Island. Second, the severity of earthquake damage at any given location depends on its subsurface. Buildings sitting on soil and gravel suffer much more damage than those built on bedrock because the soft material changes from behaving like a solid to behaving like a thick liquid, amplifying the ground’s shaking. The Pacific Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s hangar was located on solid bedrock. That alone made it highly earthquake-resilient.

But the Public Works technocrats were oblivious to those facts, or didn’t care. Instead, their design demanded steel piles driven into the bedrock at a cost of $8 million. That alone reportedly delayed the project by two years. Cross-bracing of the interior wall openings added more millions. When construction of the actual building finally began, government bureaucrats specified more office space, locker and “administrative security” facilities than what the DND had considered necessary, adding more costs.

Then came the woke-related costs. In determining the contract award, Public Works required First Nations involvement both as subcontractors and in the workforce, extensive gender diversity and complete disabled access. Elevators were ordered equipped with Braille at the control buttons plus voice recognition – along with full wheelchair accessibility. Members of the military joked that all these extras must be for the “blind and disabled pilots”. By the time the new hangar was handed back to the military, the DND’s $18 million project had skyrocketed to a staggering $155 million.

Inset2-1-907x1024.png
Braille for blind pilots: To base some of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s new CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters (above, performing in-flight refuelling with a navy frigate in the North Atlantic) on Vancouver Island, federal Public Works bureaucrats took a reasonable $18 million Department of Defence design and transformed it into a $155 million fiasco reflecting Ottawa’s diversity obsessions and wokist ideology. (Sources of photos: (top) Lockheed Martin, retrieved from Navy Recognition; (bottom) The Lookout)

In July 2019, Phillip Cross wrote an inciteful column for the Financial Post entitled, “Why governments keep screwing up major infrastructure projects”. As Cross put it, “Prominent studies of domestic and international public infrastructure projects found cost overruns averaged between 45 and 86 percent.” Why? In Cross’s view, a big part of the problem is that “public projects suffer from a lack of accountability. Governments evaluate projects not according to the performance-based criteria of the private sector, but by their conformity to rules and processes.”

Cross’s points are well-taken and illustrated by circling back to our Saanich Firehall example. The new facility’s 23,476 square feet will incur a construction cost of over $1,900 per square foot (assuming the new $45 million budget is big enough). That is six to nine times typical construction costs for commercial buildings which, as this report shows, average $200-$300 per square foot. And while a firehall may well be a bit more sophisticated and hence costly to build than, say, a retail strip mall, the Saanich firehall’s costs are also wildly out of proportion to any class of construction, as the fascinating accompanying chart shows. As you can see, it lists a range of $415-$485 per square foot for emergency services buildings. Even technology-heavy, highly customized construction categories like hospitals and data centres come in at no more than $805 and $1,055 per square foot, respectively. Clearly, something is seriously wrong in Saanich and many other locations across Canada.


Life's a journey......so roll down the window and enjoy the breeze.

#3362 Nparker

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Posted 20 February 2024 - 08:28 PM

Between inane government bureaucracy and the wokefication of the construction process, how many units of affordable housing will Ottawa's recent $2 billion announcement actual create in BC? More importantly how many votes will it buy?



#3363 Mike K.

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Posted 20 February 2024 - 08:54 PM

Maybe 4,750 units, over 15 years.

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#3364 Nparker

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Posted 20 February 2024 - 09:31 PM

Maybe 4,750 units, over 15 years.

That's going to mean a lot of very crowded dwellings* for the additional 1.6 million residents expected in BC in the next 15 years.

*340+ people/unit


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#3365 dasmo

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Posted 20 February 2024 - 10:33 PM

In another four years it will be $100,000 to shoot a deer…
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#3366 Tony

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Posted 21 February 2024 - 08:18 AM

How many people moved to B.C.. in 2023?
 
 
Over 12,800 moved elsewhere in Canada since July 2022, but 151,000 have migrated to B.C. in 2023: StatsCan.Dec 20, 2023
 
• In 2023, 45,647 new homes were registered in B.C., including 6,522 single detached3 and 39,125 multi-unit homes4 . 

Edited by Tony, 21 February 2024 - 08:22 AM.


#3367 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 12:50 AM

One hundred and seventy new affordable housing units in Sooke remain unoccupied despite being completed, causing frustration as the community grapples with a housing crisis.

The $5.6 million project, located at the corner of Drennan Street and Sooke Road, was originally slated for occupancy in December. However, unforeseen delays attributed to cost pressures, partially caused by rising interest rates, pushed back the move-in date, according to a spokesperson for the B.C. Housing Ministry.


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Sooke Coun. Al Beddows said he heard the delays were due to financial pressures as well.

“It’s frustrating , especially during a housing crisis that it’s sitting vacant while it’s fully completed,” he said. “It’s unacceptable while we have so many people living in limbo because of this.”


https://www.vicnews....n-sooke-7322389

Edited by Victoria Watcher, 27 February 2024 - 12:51 AM.


#3368 Mike K.

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 06:59 AM

Did anyone clarify those pressures and how they are leading to a completed building not being occupied?

Is it related to nobody available to sign off on the project, because it’s the biggest one in Sooke and the inspectors are not equipped to do it? Like what is the issue?

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#3369 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 07:18 AM

Did anyone clarify those pressures and how they are leading to a completed building not being occupied?

Is it related to nobody available to sign off on the project, because it’s the biggest one in Sooke and the inspectors are not equipped to do it? Like what is the issue?

 

Ya, more questions need to be asked here.  But it does say the issues are resolved.  I'd presume it might be operating money/budget rather than anything else.



#3370 Mike K.

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 07:27 AM

Shouldn’t a journalist working this case have confirmed it for us? All we ended up with are rumours.
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#3371 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 29 February 2024 - 05:45 AM

Native housing society buying Esquimalt building to protect rentals

 

Lu’ma Native Housing Society is buying the 16-unit apartment with help from the provincial Rental Protection Fund.
 
 
The society is purchasing the building at 860 Carrie St. for $5.3 million through a $3-million contribution from the fund combined with low-interest financing.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
screenshot-www.vicnews.com-2024.02.29-08_45_51.png
 
 
 
 
 
 
screenshot-multifamilybc.cbrevancouver.com-2024.02.29-08_47_09.png
 
 
 
 
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“Lu’ma Development Management is grateful for the opportunity to support our client to purchase this building and protect these 16 units,” said Lu ’ma Development Management chief executive Dave Ward.

 

The $500-million fund is part of the province’s Homes for People action plan, which addresses the need for new Indigenous housing around B.C. and has so far funded the preservation of close to 700 homes.

 

Announcements about those homes will be made in the coming months, the province said.

 

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins praised the fund for allowing people who are part of the community to remain there. “Not only are we seeing the positive effects today, but we will see value in the future as spaces open up for Indigenous households.”


Edited by Victoria Watcher, 29 February 2024 - 05:50 AM.


#3372 Mike K.

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Posted 29 February 2024 - 07:32 AM

So Esquimalt rejects 16 additional units at Pacific House, now the province has protected 16 units at an old apartment building. I can’t see us solving the housing crisis by rejecting housing and keeping old buildings on under-used lots from being redeveloped in the urban core.
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#3373 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 29 February 2024 - 07:39 AM

So Esquimalt rejects 16 additional units at Pacific House, now the province has protected 16 units at an old apartment building. I can’t see us solving the housing crisis by rejecting housing and keeping old buildings on under-used lots from being redeveloped in the urban core.


It's one big freaky shell-game.

We pitch in with at least $3M to keep 16 units here. Probably a lot more.

And of course as tenants vacate, only new indegenous tenants can occupy.
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#3374 Victoria Watcher

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Posted 29 February 2024 - 02:46 PM

A year ago Black Press Media published an opinion piece on the sale of 860 Carrie St, stating, “this highly desirable apartment building is a superb opportunity for an investor to acquire a stable cash-flowing asset with below market financing.”

This column caught the attention of the provincial government, as they made direct reference to it during Wednesday’s event.

“The article said that if you were to have tenant turnover, you could actually make a lot of profit from this building and because of that article it’s exciting to be here today,” explained Kahlon.

The opinion piece did note that the province froze rent increases at two per cent so current renters would have avoided massive rent increases. However, tenants could have potentially gotten renovicted or displaced and new renters at the building were at risk for immense rent increases.

Now, that risk is gone.

“Our long-term goal is to ensure Indigenous people of Esquimalt are given an opportunity to be housed in a culturally appropriate space and to provide the same support services that Lu’ma provides to all its residents by filling the vacancies in this building with Indigenous tenants as the units become available,” said Lu’ma CEO, Dave Ward.

The society explained it will prioritize housing for Indigenous renters by using a rental application list where people will be evaluated through the typical recruitment of tenants for new and vacancies. To help with the evaluation Lu’ma stated it will also tap into the expertise of its tenants relations staff and will start occupying the units as they are made available.


https://www.vicnews....artment-7323679



“Not only are we able to keep these homes protected long into the future, we’re able to protect the 16 families that live in these homes,” said Minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon at the Esquimalt property.

_____

Lu’ma will contribute payments for the complex through low-interest financing. Built in 1971, the building features four studios and 12 one-bedroom units. People living in the building will be able to stay there at the same rent. Lu’ma Native Housing will manage renovations to the roof, the building exterior and upgrades within three units. These renovations will prolong the building’s lifespan without disrupting tenancies.





Oh my, 4 studio and 12 1-bedroom. That’s not a lot of “families”. And it comes at $350,000 per unit.

Edited by Victoria Watcher, 29 February 2024 - 02:50 PM.


#3375 UDeMan

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 07:44 AM

https://www.cbc.ca/n...suits-1.7131524

Fraud alleged a Vivid affordable housing sales

#3376 IPH

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 09:47 AM

I call BS (youtube.com)

 

The more government says they are the solution to affordability the worse it gets.  Why am I not surprised.


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#3377 Mike K.

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 04:34 PM

Without even viewing that video I can tell you the cost to administer these programs is so incredibly high that it eats away much of what we think is going to housing.

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#3378 Sparky

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 06:02 PM

https://www.cbc.ca/n...suits-1.7131524

Fraud alleged a Vivid affordable housing sales


Former Minister of Housing and current Premier….asleep at the helm?
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#3379 lanforod

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Posted 05 March 2024 - 08:10 PM

I call BS (youtube.com)

The more government says they are the solution to affordability the worse it gets. Why am I not surprised.


Ismo, watch this. All of it; might help answer your question from earlier today as well.

#3380 phx

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Posted 06 March 2024 - 09:06 PM

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has a “plan to unlock pathways to the middle class for the next generation.”

 

I believe she is referring to Generation Alpha.

As for Gen-Z and millennials that haven’t made it yet, they already know they’re screwed.

 

It is depressing how far Canada has fallen in just a few years.


Edited by phx, 06 March 2024 - 09:08 PM.

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