Economist running to be next mayor of Vernon shares vision for attainable housing | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Economist running to be next mayor of Vernon shares vision for attainable housing

Victor Cumming is a Vernon economist running in the 2018 municipal election for mayor.
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October 01, 2018 - 1:37 PM

VERNON - Victor Cumming is taking a second crack at becoming the mayor of Vernon and a key pillar of his platform is attainable housing.

It’s a slightly different issue than affordable housing, which is designated for low-to-average-income households, whereas attainable housing focuses on average-to-medium-income households, according to the City of Vernon.

“It’s a barrier to economic development because people can’t find housing that matches the income they make,” Cumming says.

The economist blames Vernon’s past development choices to make subdivisions that are, “like balloons on a string.”

He says that is when you have a significant residential development far away from the core, with very few developments along the road to it. He uses the Foothills neighbourhood on the way to Silver Star Mountain as an example, because it was developed far away from the core of the city.

“You’re running a sewer line, a waterline and a road with no one living on either side of it paying taxes,” he says. “That is very expensive. Very expensive.”

He says this is why development permits cost so much in Vernon.

A single-detached lot in Vernon’s core has a development cost charge that can range from $17,405 to $22,253 depending on size, according to the city's bylaw, while developing a single-detached lot in Penticton’s core costs thousands of dollars less at $13,262.

Cumming says there is no quick fix to the problem and it will take decades to ameliorate.

“The only real answer is to slowly densify the inner core,” he says. “If you put two houses on a large lot you have a larger density," he says.

This type of development is already happening on Mission Road, lower East Hill and around Seaton Secondary School.

“That’s the kind of thing that will slowly, over time, generate more revenue for the city without extending the basic infrastructure," he says.

Cumming says it is important to increase the use of both sides of the long roads, or the “strings” that lead to these developments.

“The densifying of Vernon will take a couple of decades,” he says. “We need to continue to follow the same strategy of infill in the core and developing along these roads that have infrastructure in them out to these residential developments.”

You can see the
You can see the "balloons on a string" on the integrated transportation framework map from the City of Vernon.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Vernon

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