Two views: Affordability

Invermere mayoral hopefuls Gerry Taft and Al Miller weigh in on issues affecting the district each week leading up to November 19

GERRY TAFT: Affordability or the lack of affordability can apply to different categories, whether it is housing, groceries/basic supplies, childcare, or transportation. There are also different categories of need, from those who need direct social assistance and housing from the provincial and federal governments, to the working lower middle class who are surviving but are unable to jump from renting to home ownership.

There is no easy answer or solution to any of the complexities of affordability.  One of the first steps is to continue to fight to maintain and enhance senior government services in Invermere.

There is also an important consideration in respect to how involved local government should become in this field. In the past local governments were charged with roads, water, and sewer. Over the years the list of services has grown — along with tax rates, but the reality remains that there is only one tax payer.

A one per cent tax increase in Invermere generates an additional $30,000 in new revenue. In order to fund some of the concepts for housing affordability (or even something totally different, like a swimming pool or performing arts centre), we might have to raise taxes to the level where homeownership and renting then becomes unaffordable to a whole new group of people.

Affordability is one more reason why we need to focus on retaining, growing, and attracting careers versus focusing on service industry jobs.

We also need to approve developments which are geared for permanent residents, instead of the recreational market.

AL MILLER: The Columbia valley is a very special place for both lifestyle and beauty. People want to live here but affordability is an issue.

Real estate pricing was affordable in the past but a few years ago when the demand grew we all wanted more for our properties. Housing is the biggest expense in the family budget.

The challenge will be to acquire a mix of affordable solutions.  We will need to actively pursue strategies that address lot development, density bonusing, and smaller foot print homes. We need to investigate feasible market housing and reasonably priced rental options.

An area where we can start is with our Housing Authority. This is a major concern to me, as this group exists but as a council we have not had a meeting with them.

The people who live here are ready to be involved with the future of our community. We have a large brain trust in our community available to help out in future planning. Let’s activate and support the Authority.

A successful example in the past was the Invermere Community Sustainability Plan, where interested citizens of the community came together from different sectors for brain storming and planning.

This particular plan was supported by council and a document was created which will be a guiding filter for future District planning decisions.

As a leader I do not have all the answers but I’m not afraid to gather experts in various fields to discuss options and listen.

Networking, communicating and partnering.  A strong foundation for success.