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Sicamous housing report shows lack of rentals forcing residents into ‘unsafe’ housing

Consulting firm finds short-term rentals contributing to housing challenges
A report on housing needs in Sicamous, completed by CitySpaces Consulting, is being presented to district council at its Jan. 26 meeting. (File photo)

A lack of rental housing, combined with the prevalence of short-term rentals, has some residents living in “inadequate or unsafe” housing, according to a report done for the District of Sicamous.

In June 2021, the district hired CitySpaces Consulting to undertake a housing needs report. The completed report was submitted to the district on Jan. 18 and will be viewed by council at its Jan. 26 meeting.

The report begins with an executive summary detailing some of CitySpaces key findings, determined through research and community engagement.

Long-term rental housing is hard to find any time of the year, according to CitySpaces, and an increasing number of units being offered as short-term rentals is affecting the cost and availability of housing in Sicamous.

“Residents are resorting to living in motels and recreational vehicles as long-term alternatives… families are living in tents during summer seasons as they lose their housing to the short-term rental pool,” reads the report.

Read more: Sicamous residents say lack of long-term rentals detrimental to town

Without affordable rental options needed to attract skilled/seasonal employees, CitySpaces found local businesses are “struggling to operate at full capacity.”

According to the report, groups having a “great challenge” finding affordable housing in Sicamous are seasonal workers, single people, young adults and “renters of all forms.” Additionally, seniors looking to downsize and age in their community were noted as a group having a hard time finding suitable housing.

Gaps CitySpaces found in Sicamous’ housing market include a lack of secured market-rental housing, low-end of market rental housing and non-market (shelters, safe houses, transitional and supportive) housing.

CitySpaces estimates 260 housing units will be need to be added to Sicamous’ housing supply by 2026 in order to keep up with population growth.

The consulting firm cites Statistics Canada, BC Assessment, BC Housing and BC Statistics as quantitative data sources for its report. An online survey, virtual workshops with stakeholders, key informant interviews and meetings with municipal staff were cited as qualitative sources.

“Engaged organizations included non-profit and community-based agencies, local builders and developers, Indigenous community representatives, and the public,” reads the report, which can be found in its entirety on the district’s website.

Read more: Deadline for applying to volunteer on Sicamous housing committee approaching

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