Editorial: Affordable housing, a top priority

Affordable housing is a growing concern across the country but it's also evident here in the Columbia Valley.

In the recently released Vital Signs survey report compiled by the Columbia Valley Community Foundation, it turns out that “affordability” elicited the highest number of responses when respondents were asked what they consider to be the top priority for housing in the Columbia Valley.

Affordable housing in the valley is a growing concern. The cost of buying and even renting a house keeps going up, making it more and more difficult for many of those who live and work here full-time to find reasonably priced places to live.

The Community Foundation states in its report that supporting viable housing solutions is a vital action that must be taken in order to protect the social and economic well being of the local communities.

While the Family Dynamix Association has been working diligently to come up with these solutions, as affordable housing project director Michele Neider states, “it’s… a long process.” While Family Dynamix successfully developed one 18-unit complex of affordable housing in 2013, it doesn’t come close to meeting the current need. In the meantime, 54 per cent of residential homes in the area are owned by second-homeowners or “oth

er property investors” (Vital Signs report), which drives up the price of houses and means many homes are vacant for much of the year.

In B.C.’s biggest resort community, the Whistler Housing Authority was created to provide a range of rental and ownership housing options for those who live and work in Whistler. As they state on their website: “Creating an inventory of price controlled units that are only available to resident employees has proven to be the best means of reducing the impact of market forces, which for the last 20 years has driven the price of market housing out of reach for locals.” (https://whistlerhousing.ca/) The Banff Housing Corporation similarly provides subsidized options to help Banff residents buy and, in the future, rent. Then there is Vancouver, where mayor and council have announced that an empty home tax will be in effect by next year, with any revenue earned above expenses going to affordable housing.

Solving the current problem before it becomes a crisis is paramount for keeping businesses staffed, school enrolment up and retaining residents. The need for affordable housing in the valley won’t be going away.

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