Letters to the Editor

Living subterranean while saving for a mortgage

To the editor:

Re: Secondary Suites Not Good For Single-Family Areas, June 26 Capital News.

I read this letter, that states secondary suites are “cancer” to single family neighbourhoods. The letter goes on to state the three major downsides to secondary suites are: More road traffic, higher real estate prices and city tax collectors collecting tax from landlords who rent out their secondary suites.

My partner and I live the subterranean lifestyle. That is—we live in a basement suite. I hold a university degree while my partner is a journeyman in his trade and we both are fully employed and make a middle-income.

We would love to live in a single-family home such as a small house or townhouse. The sad reality is that we cannot simply afford to rent an entire house to ourselves. Rather than get an additional roommate or two we have opted to rent within our means and as a result we live in someone’s basement suite.

This is a reality for many residents of the Okanagan. Regulation of secondary suites ensures that my partner and I, and many others like us, are not being taken for a ride.

I guarantee you that renters do not ask if the space they are renting is ‘legal’ if it means staying out of the elements and sleeping somewhere warm and relatively safe. This means that regulation of secondary suites is a great thing for renters looking for safe suites to rent.

I think the bigger issue here is how secondary suites help, especially when you consider how hard it is to find low-income housing in Kelowna. Wouldn’t you rather have that extra 1,000 sq. ft. of basement that you hardly ever use occupied by tenants rather than seeing it empty while people sleep on the streets, or in a shelter or on somebody’s couch? I know I would.

The traffic issue is paltry in my opinion. Perhaps a reform of public transportation in Kelowna may ease traffic issues but I think it will always be an issue regardless of the fact that your neighbour has tenants in his suite.

And as for the tax man: Maybe he can use some of the taxes collected from landlords to pay for better public transit?

I agree that secondary suites, when used as a mortgage helper, could possibly be raising mortgage prices. There is no way my partner and I could afford a single family home (in this sense, a detached home) without either having roommates or a secondary suite. We need to make more money or wait it out. And while we save up a hefty down payment we are left to consider ways to save up money. That means renting as cheaply as possible and that means hanging out ‘underground’ for a few more years.

Kim Larson,

Kelowna

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