Lack of budget help for young B.C. renters ‘problematic’

Advocate surprised that NDP’s election promise not included in financial update

Affordable rent advocates are among those who are surpised at Monday’s provincial budget update from the BC NDP.

The party had campaigned hard on a $400 annual rebate for renters if elected last spring, but no such cash was included in the update. Instead, $291 million over two years was set aside to build housing for the homeless, and another $208 million for 1,700 affordable rentals for lower-income families and seniors.

READ: NDP funds 2,000 housing units for homeless

“I’m a little surprised they didn’t do it,” said Generation Squeeze founder Paul Kershaw. “They tabled a ‘wait for February’ budget update.”

Kershaw said the party has only been in office for eight weeks and hasn’t had time to accomplish much, but he’s wary it could mean the government isn’t serious about levelling the playing field between renters and homeowners. The latter already receive a grant, he said.

He actually goes futher to doubt the policy itself.

“A dollar a day isn’t going to transform the affordability of rentals,” he said. “It’s one thing not to see that renters’ rebate, but what’s problematic is where’s the plan to incentivize developers to build purpose built rental?”

When reached for comment, a finance ministry spokesperson reiterated the government’s budget update promises of $291 million for housing for the homeless, $208 million for affordable housing and $7 million over three years for the Residential Tenancy Branch.

In addition, an emailed statement from the ministry noted that they are “developing a comprehensive plan to make housing more affordable for people, to close speculation loopholes, and reduce tax fraud and money laundering in B.C. real estate.”

No rentals to be found

The rental vacancy rate in B.C. has hovered at an average of 1.3 per cent over the past three years, according to stats from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In Metro Vancouver, that rate sat at only 0.7 per cent at the end of 2016. The City of Vancouver’s rate is 0.8 per cent, while Surrey sits at 0.4 per cent. White Rock has the fewest available rentals in the region, at 0.1 per cent.

Outside of Vancouver, the rate is 0.5 in Abbotsford and Mission, 0.6 per cent in Kelowna and 0.5 per cent in Victoria.

Rebate wouldn’t help with rent costs

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Greater Vancouver is $1,159, according to CMHC numbers. Abbotsford and Mission is at $744, Kelowna is $864 and Victoria is $912. Province-wide, it sits at $1,054.

Kershaw said he doesn’t think a $400 rebate will touch that. Instead, he’d like to see a province-wide application of Vancouver’s charter rights, which allow the city to tax empty homes and more effectively regulate short-term rental.

“I think we need a provincial framework,” said Kershaw. “I think we need other cities paying attention to the way Vancouver is doing things… and then adapt accordingly.

Victoria and Nelson are set to bring resolutions on the topic to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention later this month.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Interior Health managers voice discontent

Negative comments about work culture aimed at CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Princeton woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Okanagan losing battle to preserve wetlands

Political will called for to create and enforce mitigation standards

Penticton hospital fourth busiest in the region for opioid overdose

The highest was Kelowna General with about 355, followed by Vernon Jubilee 310 and Royal Inland in Kamloops with 180

Video: Bulky bobcat goes for a stroll

Bob Lindley shared a video of a sneaky bobcat strolling through his yard in Vernon.

OK Falls pot shop vandalized a week after opening

Windows were smashed Wednesday evening and spray paint called the owner a “goof” and a “pedo”

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

It’s all in the black for Roots & Blues

While they didn’t rake in the dough, the 2017 event made a modest profit

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Albas takes on mortgage changes in town hall

Conservative MP mostly echoed chamber of commerce concerns but sparred with one attendee on details

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Most Read