More grants for rental housing developers as Kelowna fights abysmal vacancy rate - InfoNews

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More grants for rental housing developers as Kelowna fights abysmal vacancy rate

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January 20, 2018 - 10:00 AM

KELOWNA - Its been six years since they city began offering incentives to developers to build rental housing with the aim of constructing 300 units a year and heading off a growing rental crisis.

But just an average of 168 units were built each year from 2012 when the city first began offering grants and tax exemptions to 2016 when a record 300 units came online.

The lack of uptake has left the city about 1,300 rental units shy of its goal and despite its best efforts, has seen the rental vacancy rate drop even further from 0.7 percent in 2015 to 0.2 per cent as measured by Canada Mortgage and Housing in the fall of 2017.

That rate is amongst one of Canada’s lowest and Kelowna council will hear Monday, Jan. 22, from planner specialist Ross Soward the latest recommendation for 2018 grant recipients, four projects representing 302 units with two downtown, one in Rutland and another near Okanagan College.

Kelowna will spend $420,00 on grants this year. A 68-unit project on Fuller Avenue and another with 58 units on Clement a few blocks over will be available for regular rentals while a 154-unit project on KLO Road will be purpose built for seniors and a 22-unit building on Rutland Road will be aimed at the student housing market.

In his report to council, Soward says some of the four project developers will also be eligible for 10-year revitalization tax exemptions and he anticipates some of them will apply.

He also notes 1,373 rental housing units began construction in 2017 and that 863 of the 1,070 units approved for grants last year are already under construction and should come online beginning late this year or early 2019.

That should bring a moderate improvement in the vacancy rate, Soward says, although he stops short of predicting a dramatic improvement, noting that brisk population growth has so far outpaced new rental housing development.

Kelowna council will consider the rental housing grant recommendations from staff at its regular meeting, 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22 at Kelowna city hall.


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