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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
11/1/2013 Published Article
Workforce Housing Poses a Challenge for Everyone

Workforce housing is a real challenge in our region. Workforce housing is affordable housing for those with earned income that is insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace. The Victoria Foundation recently completed their Victoria’s Vital Signs 2013 survey, which found cost of living and housing were among the top issues Victorians are facing. Both the decreasing vacancy rate, from 12.6 percent in 2012 to 11.1 percent in 2013, as well as climbing rental rates confirm the housing challenges we have in the Capital Region.

Availability in the rental market is important to businesses, as rental properties provide housing for employees at all levels within an organization, and is a key challenge in finding skilled labour. Rental properties can be a particularly important factor for entry-level employees. As rental availability declines further, businesses are challenged when it comes to attracting talented staff to the area. With the current unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, which is expected to continue to decline, businesses will be further challenged with staffing their business.

It is important that we address the issue of workforce housing together as a region. The Chamber has been active in promoting solutions to address the lack of workforce housing and advocating for increasing rental inventory though “fair tax” treatment.

One of the ways The Chamber suggests to increase rental inventory is through changes in tax treatment of rental income. Currently, rental income generated falls into a passive income category which may not allow a business to take advantage of the 13.5 percent corporate rate. Additionally, decreasing capital gains taxes when a property is sold can encourage property turnover as well as reinvestment into other properties.

Current tax policies deter investment into the rental housing market. As a result, investors look at property investment options that have a more favourable taxation policy, such as condominiums and other accommodations instead of investing in rental property.

The Chamber will continue to focus on improving rental inventory; workforce housing must be increased in our region as it is essential to maintaining a vibrant community.

Bruce Carter
CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

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