The stage is set for a spirited debate at Vernon council’s Monday (Feb. 22) regular meeting, with two councillors expected to make separate motions that land them on either side of a broader conversation around supportive housing.
Coun. Akbal Mund has put forward a motion that will request the District of Coldstream “take meaningful steps” towards diversifying its housing stock to address affordability gaps.
Mund says these gaps were identified in a recent Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which indicates that since 2016, 94 per cent of Coldstream’s housing starts have been single-family detached, while smaller multi-family dwellings and rental units would fill a bigger need.
That’s because these missing units would “help provide affordable and attainable options for seniors downsizing, renters and households looking to move into home ownership,” Mund states.
According to the regional housing assessment, Coldstream’s rate of regional growth is expected to double from 2016 to 2026, compared to 2011-2016.
Coldstream also has the highest median home price in the North Okanagan ($501,000) as of June 2020, and as the report from that month notes, “while the median renter incomes are higher than in all other communities ($62,000), only 10 per cent of existing homes in Coldstream are in the purchase price range that would be affordable to the median income renter household.”
Mund’s motion comes at the same time Coun. Scott Anderson is motioning to suspend all BC Housing projects in Vernon until a thorough audit has been conducted. Turning Points Collaborative Society, the city’s largest non-profit housing and outreach organization, has signalled its disagreement with Anderson’s motion, saying it will slow down a process that’s currently yielding positive results, at the expense of provincial taxpayers.
It should be noted that, at the time of publishing, neither councillor has had a chance to respond to the other’s motion.
That will happen at council’s next regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 22.