Housing is arguably the number one issue on many people’s minds for this election, not just in Squamish but for the entire lower mainland.
Some strides have been made to encourage purpose built rental, and affordable rental units in Squamish, but there is much more that needs to be done, and it will be one of the greatest challenges for the incoming council.
We currently have only 70 units of affordable housing in Squamish, and no housing authority to administer them.
I am considering all of the Mayoral Candidates opinions on how to solve this crisis, and I will further outline my position in depth before October 10th.
I will put forward there are three separate issues here, rental housing availability in general with a zero percent vacancy rate, affordable rental housing (which is still quite high), and social housing which is below market value and below average income affordability.
A general lack of rental housing can begin to be addressed with a short term rental policy similar to Vancouver which only allows primary residences to be rented short term, for a limited amount of time during the year, with a license that are not self-contained accessory units. This policy would allow people to rent out their homes short term if they are away for under 6 months, and would allow a single parent to rent out a bedroom when their children are with the other parent. It would not allow an owner to list multiple properties in their entirety. The property would have to be someone’s primary residence.
Then Squamish can look at incentivizing and mandating purpose built housing for all new multi-unit developments over a certain size, much like Vancouver.
I think we need to be careful when we talk about affordable housing. This is a standard definition by CMHC of 30% of before tax income. So with an average family income in Squamish of $104,000, the metric for defined “affordability” is just over $2,900 per month. For most of us, in practical terms, that is not affordable. What I think we need to be talking about is Social Housing, which is below the standard of average affordability. This is housing for young single working people, single parents, people with ability challenges, refugees, and students.
While Vice-President External Relations at Capilano Student Union, I lobbied the provincial government to address the housing crisis for students.
“We are calling on the provincial government to cut the red tape preventing post-secondary institutions from financing housing projects on their campuses. We are also calling for the province to provide these institutions with the funding necessary to get housing projects off the ground.
Ultimately, following our recommendations, we believe that the province will be able to add 20,000 more housing units in BC over the next 10 years. This will reduce overcrowding in the off-campus housing market, shorten the housing wait-lists at UBC, and help make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for students across BC at minimal cost to the BC taxpayer.”
Capilano University was able to open it’s first Student Residence in the Fall of 2017!
I will support a comprehensive housing plan for Squamish before Oct 10th.