Letter: Some strategies for housing can have more impact

I am writing after reading Korie Marshall’s letter related to housing.

Housing is an issue in Valemount because of limited availability of housing for rent and sale; lack of diversity in housing options and unaffordable Housing.

Yes, different strategies can be considered to be different parts of the overall solution. However strategies related to zoning bylaws that allow smaller dwelling sizes, smaller lot sizes, secondary suites and secondary dwellings or charges that encourage development of vacant lots do not address the currently high prices of housing.

Only a municipal housing authority or a non-profit housing organization is in the position to address the option of having non-market housing. Also a non-profit vehicle to create housing, will be make the biggest impact in terms of number of housing units.

Whistler Housing Authority needed $6 million in order to create resident-only housing for a community ten times our size. This was at a time when there were no funding agencies (like the federal and provincial government as well as Columbia Basin Trust) allocating money specifically for affordable housing. A Valemount Housing Authority would not need that kind of equity with these different pots of money to tap into. All we would need is a municipal commitment of land to leverage other funds.

Whistler Housing Authority imposed development levies per employee into a housing fund for that purpose. This resulted in $6 million over a 5-year period. A housing fund such as Whistler’s could ensure that new businesses contribute to a fund to create respectable dwelling units for its employees. Else we will end up like a situation similar to Jasper’s where workers live in overcrowded poor living arrangements.

Even the recently established Valemount College Society is faced with the challenge of limited or close-to-none student housing for its new venture. Being a non-profit they are working on solutions to address that issue. But for-profit developers don’t always operate with that moral obligation.

While I would like to see an entity create non-market housing, I am not particular what that vehicle is, as long as we see more units for rent and sale and more housing options especially mixed-age co-housing. And that the new units are for the benefit of residents and not for short term vacation rentals or non-residents.

A non-profit housing society has many of the abilities that a municipal authority has, with the exception of applying levies for creating new units. A municipal authority also demonstrates a commitment from council to create an atmosphere that ensures that economic development projects, big or small, are supported in one of the basic needs of their workforce.

Sincerely,
Rashmi Narayan
Valemount