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'Not a silver bullet solution': Kelowna council concerned with new housing plan

Image Credit: PEXELS

Kelowna city council expressed concerns around BC Housing's Middle Income Housing Partnership plan, which proposes leasing city-owned land to developers at a low price in order to create more affordable homes for middle-income residents.

Concerns were expressed by council at the small percentage of affordable housing that will be produced by the plan. The draft plan proposes that 20% of the developed homes will be sold at 20% below current market rates.

Councillor Loyal Wooldridge called this ratio a “very scant number in regards to the need within the community.”

Mayor Tom Dyas appeared more optimistic.

“The benchmark is set around 20%. The hope is that it... gets to 25% or 30% depending upon where all those numbers come into play,” Dyas said.

However, the city needs a tenfold increase in affordable housing if it's to meet the current demand and, while the new plan will create more affordable housing for the middle-class, lower-income residents will not benefit.

READ MORE: Kelowna plans to hand over city land in exchange for affordable housing

Homes created under the new plan will cater towards residents earning between $42,000 and $87,000, who are struggling to keep up with the expensive rental market.

The current average monthly rent for a two-bedroom rental in Kelowna is $1,805.

With the proposed 20% reduction, rent on the new homes would come in at around $1,444 a month.

READ MORE: Kamloops, Kelowna buck national rental vacancy increase trend

Councillor Ron Cannon pointed out that the newly proposed reductions may still be unattainable for the $42,000 salary bracket that are said to benefit.

Ben Walker, the city's real estate services manager, acknowledged the limited impact the plan will have on low-income residents.

“It is not a silver bullet solution to the shortage and it will not solve the housing challenges faced by low and very low-income households,” he said.

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