Kelowna city council shocked by micro suite rents

Councillors say the owners of some 335-square-foot microsuites in the city are asking as much as $1,500 a month.

The units may be small, but concern is growing among Kelowna city councillors about the high rents being charged for microsuites.

Several councillors expressed their concern Monday after hearing some of the suites, which get tax breaks not afforded to other forms of residential development in the city, are costing in the neighbourhood of $1,500 per month to rent.

That is for a suite just 335 square-feet in size.

“It’s disappointing,” said Coun. Gail Given, who said there was an expectation when developers came to the city for approval to build the living spaces, that microsuites would help with Kelowna’s affordable housing shortfall.

Under a provincial mandate, developers of microsuites do not pay development cost charges for units that small.

DCCs are used by the city to help pay for infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks and street lighting associated with the developments.

Coun. Ryan Donn said he was shocked when he heard that some microsuites in the city were being rented for between $1,500 and $1,600 per month.

“My jaw just dropped,” he said. “It’s shocking, almost predatory pricing.”

While Given, Donn and others on council said they expect the market will eventually help bring down rents as more regular-sized units currently in the planning or construction phase make their way onto the market, council was given no indication such high rents would be charged for microsuites when developers came to it seeking approval to build them in the city.

In fact, the indication was the opposite, said Given.

She would not go as far as to say council was duped, but said she felt council asked all the right questions at the time.

Donn was quick to add not all developers of microsuites in the city are charging rents disproportionate to the size of the units.

One developer, he said, has made the decision to keep rents for the units he built near the Cottonwood extended care facility on Gordon Drive in the $700 to $750 per month range.

But learning that others could be rented for so much more has councillors openly questioning whether they should approve any more.

Couns. Tracey Gray, Charlie Hodge and Luke Stack all said they felt council needs to have a discussion about the issue.

“At this point, I think we want to know what can we do,” said Hodge, who was blunt in his criticism.

“Basically (with high rents, microsuties) are not helping the people they were supposed to help—those with lower incomes.”

With a vacancy rate in the city of just over 0.5 per cent, rental rates have jumped substantially in recent months. And house prices for those looking to buy have also shot up.

The city, following a surge in the number of applications from developers to built microsuites last year and earlier this year, decided to allow them in the five town centres of the city—downtown, South Pandosy, near the Landmark technology centre towers across from the Parkinson Recreation Centre, in Rutland and around the Orchard Park Shopping Centre, as well as close to UBC Okanagan.

In addition to the provincial mandate that DCCs not be charged for them, the city offers other breaks and incentives for microsuites in a bid to get more housing in the city. But while council says it is not in the business of rent controls, councillors did feel smaller suites should have smaller rents and could help ease the current rental squeeze here.

Relief may be on the horizon, however, as there are as many as 1,000 new regular-sized rental units in various developments slated to be built across the city.


Just Posted

Half-priced cat adoptions at the Kelowna SPCA

Adult cats are 50 per cent off until July 29 at the Kelowna shelter

Wildfire remains out of control near Lake Country

Lake Country - The fire started near Dee Lake, southwest of Coldstream yesterday

Kelowna RCMP investigating after woman finds a bullet in her car

The police believe it was an act of negligence

Waters: Can retired Kelowna top cop leave his old badge at the door?

Current and former Kelowna RCMP superintendents using different approaches to tackle downtown crime

Firefighters take to the roof of the Kelowna Yacht Club

Firefighters are supporting the The Bridge Youth & Family Services Society this weekend

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Arrows stick it to Adanacs

Vernon Men’s Baseball League playoff final

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

Most Read