The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging the provincial government to support communities and the economy through a spectrum of housing options and initiatives.
Chamber representatives met with Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s minister of housing, and Harwinder Sandhu, Vernon-Monashee MLA on Thursday, Jan. 19. The minister was in town to tour the new homeless housing complex completed, The Crossings.
“It was important to let the minister know that there is an obvious need for complex care in our community and the focus on supportive housing is fundamental to move individuals off the street. However, there also needs to be an emphasis on housing for the working middle-class that are being priced out of the market,” said Dan Proulx, Chamber general manager.
The Chamber would like to see incentives for the private sector to build multi-family residences including financing and financial supports that assist first-time home buyers such as increasing the property transfer tax threshold. The Chamber will continue to push the ministry to work closely with municipalities and regional districts to identify appropriate locations for all types of housing and collaboration between the provincial government. Local government, business organizations and non-profits will also be urged to advocate to the Government of Canada for housing funding and support.
“We regularly hear from businesses and non-profit organizations that struggle to retain or attract staff because of the high cost of housing, either to purchase or rent. That is compounding the labour shortage and means businesses may have to curtail hours or reduce service,” said Proulx.
“The lack of middle-income housing is even creating challenges for the health care sector as health care professionals struggle with the lack of affordability and availability. Real solutions to housing and labour must be found that involve all levels of government, non-profits, and the private sector.”
The Greater Vernon Chamber is a membership-based business support organization that has served as the leading voice of business and non-profits in the North Okanagan since 1897.