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North Island housing needs report says more stock needed

Port McNeill Councillor says it confirms what they’ve been hearing for years
Regional District of Mount Waddington covers the North Island and a chunk of the mainland. (RDMW map)

The Mount Waddington Regional Housing Needs Report has been finalized, giving North Island communities certainty about where the real gaps for housing are.

Port McNeill councillor Shelley Downey said it confirms what people in the community have been saying all along. Namely, the town needs more rental and purchase stock, and especially more seniors housing.

“We have seniors in large homes who would like to live in a smaller home, and that stock is not there,” Downey said.

Having details like this quantified in a report can help towns like Port McNeill approach developers and qualify for funding because it helps them to demonstrate both the need and the market.

The report separated areas within the Regional District of Mount Waddington, noting similarities and differences between each. Included areas are Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Port Alice and Alert Bay. Electoral districts covering the rest of the North Island and the large area on the mainland that’s part of the RDMW as well.

A caveat to the report is that much of the data it pulls on is already dated. A lot has happened since the 2016 census, notably the logging strike earlier this year and the coronavirus pandemic. Reports like this are typically updated every five years, Downey said, but thinks that in this case the region could benefit from an updated report with the 2021 census results.

The report also included public consultation from each of the areas. The final report was delayed by over six months as they reacted to the pandemic, forcing changes in how public feedback could be safely collected.

RDMW is presenting the report to the public in two online forums on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m and 6 p.m. Register here:—-final-report-community-forums-december-10-2020.