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Strathcona district seeks voter approval for regional housing service

Service would have $10 million budget, but would not need to borrow funds
The Strathcona Regional District board is trying to establish a regional housing service. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Strathcona Regional District is looking for electoral approval for its new Regional Housing Service.

The service, which would have a potential budget of up to $10 million, would allow the SRD to address a variety of housing challenges including seniors housing, workforce housing and to work with third parties such as housing societies.

However, as a service, the plan needs to be approved by residents. The SRD will be undertaking an Alternative Approval Process, where if people are opposed to the service they can submit an electoral response form.

For the regional housing service to be approved, it requires that less than 10 per cent of qualified electors throughout the Strathcona Regional District (34,560 electors) submit an objection through an elector response form.

Key features of the proposed regional housing service include: investment in workforce housing, seniors housing, and other forms of housing. A regional approach that would be used only where there is a need and demonstrated public benefit. An anticipated return on investment that would be unique to each project and would be assessed before public funds are committed.

The SRD would not automatically borrow capital funds or incur debt, but the borrowing authority would provide a source of capital when and if needed. The SRD could enter into agreements with housing societies and other entities to develop housing solutions that are customized to community needs and conditions.

“This is an important initiative for the region which is facing a multitude of housing challenges that cannot be easily solved by traditional private market solutions” said SRD Chair Mark Baker. “I am hopeful that the public will agree with the approach being proposed by the Regional District and will support this important initiative,” he said.

The AAP will run for 55 days and is scheduled to close at 12:00 noon on January 2, 2024. At the conclusion of the AAP, if at least 3,456 qualified electors (10% of the electors in the SRD) have submitted written objections to the bylaws, the Regional Board will not be able to adopt the bylaws without first obtaining elector approval through a voting process.

Additional information about the proposed regional housing service and elector response forms can be found at