Sky-high housing costs and a lack of housing diversity has reached “a crisis level,” according to the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO).
“So much of the housing is single-family,” said Kevin Acton, chair of RDNO’s board of directors. “We need more variety in our housing stock, everything from three-story townhomes to apartment and condo buildings.”
According to the 2021 Census, single-detached homes make up 62 per cent of the North Okanagan housing market, despite having benchmark prices more than double that of a condo or apartment. The Association of Interior Realtors’ February 2023 statistics show the current benchmark price of a single-detached home in the North Okanagan sits at $708,600. A typical condo, meanwhile, sells for $310,900.
“All industries and small businesses in our community are affected because even families with two adults, with good jobs, can’t afford or find housing here,” said Leigha Horsfield, executive director of Community Futures North Okanagan. “Without more options, the community will have difficulty attracting professionals who support thriving businesses and healthy residents.”
The rural Okanagan, according to Community Futures British Columbia’s Rural BC Economic Bulletin, also boasts the highest average home price outside of Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria.
The solution that RDNO foresees is to add density through attainable multi-family developments.
Acton said that attainable multi-family developments are not to be confused with affordable housing, as higher-density builds come in all shapes and sizes, including everything from townhomes and row housing to condos and apartments run by strata corporations.
“Housing diversity gives potential buyers a choice and leads to a more vibrant, inclusive and functional community,” said Acton. “By welcoming more people and business investment into our communities, building more and different types of housing helps ensure everyone has access to the resources they need for a healthy life.”
“More and diverse housing helps our community and economy thrive by welcoming people who are essential to our workforce, contributing to everyday healthy living and the services we all enjoy.”
For more information, visit rdno.ca/housing.