Affordability identified as key issue in Penticton housing report

FILE PHOTO - A report presented to Penticton City Council's Committee of the Whole this week says the city will need an average of 14 apartments of five storeys or more built in the city over the next three decades.

PENTICTON - Housing affordability was identified as one of the largest deterrents to growth in Penticton, a recent Housing Needs Assessment study for the City of Penticton revealed this week.

That fact and more was presented to council in a comprehensive document at Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

The study, carried out by Urbanics Consultants Ltd., projects housing needs for the city for the next 30 years and also includes some ideas as to how the city can meet those needs, Planning Manager Blake Laven said in a staff report to council.

The report found a large number of Penticton residents spending more of their income than is considered reasonable — 30 per cent — on housing.

Laven reported 617 owner-occupied residents and 2,156 renters (13 per cent of Penticton households) who are currently in “core need,” those spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, a number expected to grow through the study period.

The city will need an average of 21 single detached houses, 50 semi-detached, row, or duplex housing, 14 apartments of five or more storeys, 44 apartments of four storeys or less, and five movable residences annually over the 30 year study period, Laven reported.

Laven said single family housing stock was declining in Penticton as multiple forms of housing such as townhouses and apartments, is gaining momentum and expected to continue into the future.

The number of single family homes being built has declined from 50 per cent in 1991 to 46 per cent today, Laven reported.

The report also projects Penticton’s population to reach 42,000 by 2046, with a higher percentage of the population over 65 years of age, from 29 per cent today to 33 per cent in 2046.

The report also identified a gap in non-market housing, units designated for seniors, persons with disabilities, and others who qualify for social housing. Penticton currently has 661 units when the current need for the city is 900. That gap is expected to grow to 1,120 units by 2046.

Coun. Max Picton said he hoped there would be a coordinated strategy between the city’s developmental services and its economic development department to ensure housing needs were consistent with the city’s economic needs and the demographics required for industry.

Coun. Helena Konanz asked whether new residential construction taking place in Penticton was accompanied by full time jobs, or whether a large number of residences in Penticton were presently unoccupied.

Laven said the latest data, from 2011, indicated eight per cent of housing stock in Penticton was presently unoccupied. He said more research with new census data would be needed with respect to that number.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit questioned statistics regarding the number of vehicles assigned to various housing units.

“It would be curious to know, on average, each household has, 1.5 cars, or 2.2, whatever that number is,” he said, adding the information would be useful for future decisions on parking variances.

Director of Development Services Anthony Haddad said the report would next come before the Official Community Plan committee for further analysis and to set priorities on future housing developments within the city. Public engagement will also be forthcoming.

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