Our Community


Salt Spring Island is an unincorporated community in the Southern Gulf Islands archipelago of British Columbia.

Our People

Salt Spring Island has 10,601 residents living in 4,665 households. This accounts for over two thirds of the total Gulf Islands’ population. While the other islands have experienced population decreases in recent years, Salt Spring Island’s population grew by about 10% between 2006 and 2014 – a greater increase than projected and higher than the 8.5% average growth experienced across the CRD.

At the time of the 2011 Census, nearly 55% of the population was age 50 or older with a medium age of 53.2. Children under the age of 20 represented 17% of the population while households with children represented 24% of all households. The average household size was 2.6 persons.

The median household income on Salt Spring Island is $53,523, 11% lower than the regional average household income of $60,796. Salt Spring Island’s two parent families with children have a higher average income ($71,332) and single parent families much lower ($32,210.

Our Homes

Much of Salt Spring Island’s housing stock can be characterized as detached, low-density homes on large rural lots or generously sized suburban lots. Although some townhouse and low-rise apartment developments exist in the community, 84% of residents live in single detached homes

According the 2011 National Household Survey, 83% of fulltime households live in a home they own.

All the qualities that make Salt Spring Island a wonderful place to call home year-round also attract many visitors and second homeowners. 17% (985 units) of all housing is occupied on a part-time or occasional basis. The remaining 83% (4,665 units) is occupied fulltime.

homes graphFrom 2011 to 2013, the average cost of a single detached home on Salt Spring Island was $531,118; for a townhouse, it was $329,590. This compares with CRD averages of $600,994 and $419,878 respectively for the same time period.

Our Housing Crisis

The 2009 Islands Trust Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) describes a housing crisis on Salt Spring Island in which the housing needs of a large percentage of the population are unmet. While the lowest income groups are the most challenged, the HNA identifies unmet housing needs across the entire housing continuum. More recent data confirms that a major affordability gap persists between what Salt Spring Island households can affordably spend on housing costs and the actual costs of renting or owning a home.

Major factors contributing to Salt Spring Island’s affordability gap include:

  • Low average incomes
  • High costs for land, servicing and taxes
  • Limited housing stock with very few multifamily and compact housing options
  • Scarce non-market and/or subsidized housing units
  • Seasonal spike in demand for rental properties
  • Non-resident home purchases

household spending

Percent of Households Spending More than 30% and 50% of Income on Housing

SSICS identified this gap and the project potential on the Bishop’s Walk property as far back as 1995. In the subsequent 20 years, very little has been done to address the affordability gap or construct new affordable housing units. The community has grown, housing costs have steadily risen, and the situation has escalated to its current crisis state.