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October 27, 2017 8:02 pm

Housing Plan Falls Short

Thursday, December 1, 2016 @ 5:45 AM

by Dermod Travis,

Hate to be one of those folk that B.C. Housing minister Rich Coleman believes has nothing better to do than get up and whine every day, but the B.C. government’s affordable housing plan announced last week falls short.

Sorry, someone had to say it.

Don’t get me wrong, it sounds impressive: 68 projects, 2,897 units, $516 million (an average of $178,115 per unit) until you grasp the full extent of what’s rapidly turning into a full-fledged housing crisis.

In 2010, B.C.’s apartment vacancy rate was 3.1 per cent and – despite adding 6,049 units to the province’s rental stock since then – it’s now 1.3 per cent.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver has risen by 26 per cent in the same period to $1,450 per month, in Victoria and Kelowna by 19 per cent to $1,188 and $1,066 respectively.

There’s another angle from which to judge the government’s plan.

According to this week’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s rental market report, “During the first six months of the year, over 14,000 new homes (of all types) were completed in urban B.C.”

The zinger?

In the preceding 12 months, 33,000 new households were formed in the province.

By the time the government’s 2,897 units see the light of day, they’ll have been eclipsed by new demand.

The plan doesn’t even merit being called a band-aid solution.

There’s another issue with last week’s announcement.

Here’s how the government put it in September: “A mix of new housing will be developed to meet the needs of a wide variety of people in communities throughout the province.”

Sixty-eight projects don’t go very far when divvied up among the regions and competing interest groups.

Here’s how the projects break out regionally: from Whistler to Chilliwack 22 projects with 1,441 units, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (18 projects/774 units) including 510 units in the Capital Regional District, the Coast (8/172), Thompson-Okanagan (9/256), Kootenay (5/86 units), Cariboo (2/68) and the North (2/31 units).

So far so good, nice regional balance.

However, not all of the 68 projects are created equal.

Start spreading those units between the various targeted groups and they don’t go very far, particularly if you’re under 65.

In its September announcement, the government set out a planto meet the needs of a wide variety of people…including low-to-moderate-income renters, seniors, youth, students, adults with developmental disabilities, Aboriginal people and women and children.”

First the pure plays, as best as they can be grouped from B.C. Housing’s website.

Seniors including those living with disabilities come out on top with 1,319 units, First Nations (432 units), low-income households and families (385), low-income individuals (187), adults with developmental disabilities or head injuries (87), people living with disabilities (72), two women’s shelters (69) and low-and-moderate-income single mothers (40).

Leaving roughly 300 units in mixed-projects to be fought over by low-income adults, single parent families, families and seniors.

There’s also $2 million for employee rental housing at Whistler (27 units with space for 100 beds).

Here’s how it looks for one region when you drill down further into the numbers.

Of the 19 projects approved for Metro Vancouver, 869 of the units are targeted for seniors, 235 of those likely for Asian-Canadians, based on descriptions of four of the projects.

A further 116 units are for low to moderate income households, single mothers and children (109), low-income individuals in the Downtown East Side (21) and mixed-projects for singles, seniors and families (107).

Low-income families and adults may want to try their luck in the Capital Regional District where 191 of the 510 units are targeted for low to moderate-income families and another 144 units for low-income adults.

There’s no question that affordable housing for seniors is desperately needed, but then so is affordable housing for students, people living with disabilities, low-income families, single parents and those just entering the workforce.

When B.C. Hydro spends $470 million on a temporary Site C work camp for 1,600 workers (an average of $293,750 per unit) – albeit with amenities and housekeeping – chances are the government can find the means to turn what it calls “an historic investment” into an affordable housing plan up to the task at hand.

It’s why the government is going to need to open the cookie jar again and soon.


Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.


Lots of complaining from this guy but zero solutions offered. Does he seriously expect the Province (ie, you and me) to start providing housing for everyone?

Students and those just entering the workforce need affordable housing? Sounds more like a want then a need to me.

    Just wondering axman when Christie Clark was “whining” that her measly pittance of a salary couldn’t afford housing in KELOWNA, that she topped it up by 100,000 just so she could buy a house in Kelowna.

    NOW what I was wondering is WHERE did that money come from???

      The top up comes from her party, not from you and I. I don’t remember it being earmarked for housing and I’m to lazy to google it.

I’m with Axman. Can’t really see the problem. Find a place to rent a 2 bedroom and look for a roommate if you want to have lower housing costs. There are other options out there to find ways to save money. The govt shouldn’t try and build housing for everyone that needs it because there are more priorities in the Province than just housing. Govt is always a balancing act.

I love the people that think they can still get affordable housing in downtown Vancouver. They should tell those people “MOVE”. Hey maybe they can move up to PG.

    The unwillingness to at least consider leaving the familiar, familes and friends is what baffles me most. People have been relocating in order to live a better life for as long as humans have been around. It may not be easy, but it may be what you need to do.

    Another thing to consider is the number of vacant low income units in Prince George, specifically two bedrooms. They are out there.

I know that every precious little snowflake wants to move directly from the protected little nest provided by their parents directly into a Yaletown condo but that is not always possible.

There was a story on Global News a while ago about a kid in his twenties whose dream it was to own a place of his own. He had a decent job and wanted to get onto the property ladder so did something that is almost unheard of in the youth of today…he saved money and built up a downpayment! Wow!

He said by choice he did miss out sometimes when his buddies went out on the town on Friday and Saturday night, chose which concerts he attended and I bet did not upgrade his cell phone every time a new model came out.

The guy is now the proud owner of an apartment in a 3 story walk up in Vancouver no less. Did this by looking to the future by taking a lesson from the past as you can bet that either his parents or grandparents struggled to get their first place they could call their own.

    Lol, sparrow states; “I know that every precious little snowflake wants to move directly from the protected little nest provided by their parents directly into a Yaletown condo but that is not always possible.” No kidding, with a Yaletown condo going for a couple of million in Vancouver’s current housing market crisis!

    Sparrow goes on to state; “There was a story on Global News a while ago about a kid in his twenties … who bought a house…” LOL, how long ago was that? Let the rest of us guess, was that before the BC Liberals got in, and handed the housing market over to real estate agencies and developers, while taking a hands off approach saying the “housing market will correct itself”? LMAO!!!

    Hey sparrow, here is a “crack shack” you can buy for $2K short of $1 MILLION DOLLARS, a good deal hey?

    ht tp://www.rew.ca/properties/R2102585/1358-e-28th-avenue-vancouver?flags=million-dollar-properties&property_browse=vancouver-bc

      There are currently 10 properties in Yaletown that list for under 500k according to MLS listings. The precious snowflakes might be able to handle one of those properties if they dipped heavily into the bank of mom and dad.

      There are over 700 properties from Maple Ridge to Vancouver and West Van that are priced under 350k. For half that a nice apartment in Surrey can be had for 175k.


      or for the full 349k White Rock


      The story on Global aired only a month or two ago when the uproar about foreign buyers driving up the price of high end homes was at its peak. Might even still be in the online video archives….fill your boots.

      Gen X and Y had everything handed to them for the most part. Hard to save when you can’t be seen outside unless labels like D&G or Coach are clearly visible on a purse or ripped jeans.

      They have high interest credit cards ran up to the limit not realizing that even if they cut the cards up exactly how long it will take to pay off making minimum payments. We owned a house and a mortgage before we got a credit card and about the only time there is a balance is when the statement gets mislaid.

      So by all means subsidize the rent or mortgage payment because that’s exactly what they expect.

      I guess if those “precious little snowflakes” are middle-class (like most of us are), they are chite out of luck ever owning a home in Vancouver. But then again, why would this BC Liberal Government ever concern itself with the middle class?

      ht tp://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-home-ownership-out-of-middle-class-reach-1.1169944

      Apartment living is the norm for a vast majority of residents in every major city in the world. Are the BC Liberals responsible for prices in Toronto, New York, London and Paris too?

      If city dwellers want a home with a yard they move to something called the suburbs that are located further from the core of the city where price of land is more reasonable. They trade convenience of living near the core for their own yard with the commute being the downside.

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