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

B.C. man convicted in fatal boat crash awaiting appeal date

Leon Reinbrecht maintains rights breached by delays

JoeAnna’s House fundraising campaign reaches $4.5 million

Offering ‘home away from home’ for families of KGH patients

Food truck options to expand in Salmon Arm

City council votes in new food truck regulations

New commercial development coming to council

Liquor outlet and 60-seat restaurant among uses proposed by applicant

Kelowna West byelection called for Feb. 14

Four candidate race to replace departed former B.C. premier Christy Clark

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

KIJHL prospects shine in showcase game

Top players for Kootenay and Okanagan conferences put best skate forward.

Challenge issued to ‘Read for 15’

Regional district libraries to compete by asking patrons to read for 15 minutes on Jan. 26 and 27.

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Public asked to report bat sightings

White nose syndrome leads to bats flying in winter or death.

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

Most Read