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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
3/1/2016 Published Article
Affordable Housing: Key to Economic Vibrancy

No vacancy is an unwelcome sign of a region struggling to house its most transient employees. A quick look at current vacancy statistics clearly underscores that Greater Victoria urgently needs a stronger rental inventory. Employers are increasingly finding the issue of rental availability to be a hurdle to recruitment and retention of employees. In some areas, extremely low vacancy rates may have adverse effects on the ability of businesses to grow.

Rental housing provides accommodation for those who are early in their work careers or those who choose to not pursue home ownership. A healthy rental market is important to business operations as the rental inventory provides housing for employees at all levels of the employment spectrum, and most importantly, for entry level employees.

Morguard's plans to build an 11-storey structure with 134 rental suites and townhomes at Uptown, Townline’s Hudson Mews project is adding another 178 units, and developer Stan Sipos is planning rental units for his mixed-use project at the corner of Government and Wharf streets. The recent move to build more rental units is very heartening. At the same time, it’s extremely important that the new supply of rental accommodation is affordable.

Mandatory affordable housing units for new developments, as well as potential municipal rental subsidies offered to landlords that allocate a certain percentage of their units as “affordable,” could be challenging. Municipal programs will have costs that will be borne by other properties.

Affordable housing is a complex problem for all levels of government. Housing needs a long-term vision for what we want in our community. It is up to our municipal governments to make a favourable environment for businesses to invest in housing. This includes all types of housing, not just rental.
Developers have told us that regulatory burdens can drive up the cost of buildings by 30 percent or more. Municipalities across the region can assist in reducing these costs by streamlining approval processes and creating an investment-friendly environment.

Affordable housing has been a standing priority for The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, particularly as it relates to our supply and retention of skilled workers. We have had regular discussions with local and provincial elected officials on this critical issue, and expect to continue our advocacy efforts in the future.

In the end, the economic vibrancy of our region hinges on access to affordable housing; we need to work together to find solutions.

Published Victoria Business Examiner


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