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

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Proponent of controversial quarry looking to get out

Sumas Mountain mine has triggered widespread opposition

NDP statements may impact farmland-for-industry decision, Abbotsford mayor says

City has asked for removal of farmland from Agricultural Land Reserve to spur industrial growth

Ammonia concern prompted closure of Abbotsford ice rink

Ice arena at Matsqui Recreation Centre has been shuttered for more than a week

No immediate plan to convert farmland to sports fields

Abbotsford lacks ball diamonds and other fields, but solution could prove controversial

VIDEO: Widen the freeway now, Langley chamber insists

Business advocates describe cancelling bridge tolls and highway expansion as ‘disappointing.’

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

One dead after targeted shooting in Coquitlam

IHIT also asking for information about a car on fire nearby

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals for Canada, and men’s hockey loss

Team Canada shines on the speed skating track, but fall short against the Czechs in hockey

Heavy snowfall warning continues

Kelowna - Expect snow in the Okanagan, Southern Interior and the Kootenays

VIDEO: Injury-riddled Vancouver Giants find a way to edge Edmonton Oil Kings

Giants win 2-1 at home despite missing four key defencemen from lineup

RCMP member challenges court to prevent further disciplinary action

RCMP member launches appeal to avoid new hearing over alleged harassment

Most Read