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78% of Kelowna renters cannot move into strata homeownership

‘Housing prices and rental rates are basically on the level of Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto’
(Photo/Regional District Central Okanagan)

Council heard an update on the Regional Housing Strategy (RHS) at Monday’s meeting (Feb. 7).

The Regional District Central Okanagan (RDCO) retained Urban Matters to develop the strategy. Nancy Henderson, project lead, told council that to afford the median posted primary market rent for a two-bedroom unit in the RDCO requires a household income of $75,000/year. The median renter household income in the RDCO is $50,000.

“The focus is on rental housing,” said Henderson. “This is all happening while more purpose-built rental housing than ever before is being built in the city of Kelowna, with over 1,200 units in the last couple of years. Yet, there is a still virtually zero vacancy rate.”

Henderson added the vacancy rate is being compounded with housing prices increasing rapidly and a growing gap between affordability and renters being able to move into the housing market. Approximately 78 per cent of renters in Kelowna cannot afford to move into strata homeownership.

One of the initiatives the RHS calls for is an advocacy strategy aligned with provincial and fed housing policies to bring attention to the situation in Kelowna.

“We have housing prices and rental rates that are basically on the level of Vancouver, Victoria, and Toronto,” added Henderson.

Coun. Luke Stack urged that the speculation and vacancy tax issue be considered as the strategy moves forward.

“The speculation tax doesn’t affect us all the same, yet we’re all part of the same regional district,” said Stack. “Some municipalities are subject to the tax and some are not. If we were looking at the logic of this from a regional perspective, you would hope that some of the over-arching laws would be consistent in that region so that you could make one policy. I think it does influence at the moment where certain decisions could go and it may have an impact on the regional housing.”

In 2014, the RDCO adopted the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), which provides direction for the coordinated growth of the region amongst member municipalities and electoral areas. A Regional Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) and the RHS are two priority projects from the RGS.

Urban Matters is also developing a Poverty and Wellness Strategy for the RDCO with a similar time frame to the RHS.

Read More: Kelowna council considers several rezoning requests

Read More: Homeownership unattainable for many Kelowna residents


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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