Lack of budget help for young B.C. renters ‘problematic’

Advocate surprised that NDP’s election promise not included in financial update

Affordable rent advocates are among those who are surpised at Monday’s provincial budget update from the BC NDP.

The party had campaigned hard on a $400 annual rebate for renters if elected last spring, but no such cash was included in the update. Instead, $291 million over two years was set aside to build housing for the homeless, and another $208 million for 1,700 affordable rentals for lower-income families and seniors.

READ: NDP funds 2,000 housing units for homeless

“I’m a little surprised they didn’t do it,” said Generation Squeeze founder Paul Kershaw. “They tabled a ‘wait for February’ budget update.”

Kershaw said the party has only been in office for eight weeks and hasn’t had time to accomplish much, but he’s wary it could mean the government isn’t serious about levelling the playing field between renters and homeowners. The latter already receive a grant, he said.

He actually goes futher to doubt the policy itself.

“A dollar a day isn’t going to transform the affordability of rentals,” he said. “It’s one thing not to see that renters’ rebate, but what’s problematic is where’s the plan to incentivize developers to build purpose built rental?”

When reached for comment, a finance ministry spokesperson reiterated the government’s budget update promises of $291 million for housing for the homeless, $208 million for affordable housing and $7 million over three years for the Residential Tenancy Branch.

In addition, an emailed statement from the ministry noted that they are “developing a comprehensive plan to make housing more affordable for people, to close speculation loopholes, and reduce tax fraud and money laundering in B.C. real estate.”

No rentals to be found

The rental vacancy rate in B.C. has hovered at an average of 1.3 per cent over the past three years, according to stats from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In Metro Vancouver, that rate sat at only 0.7 per cent at the end of 2016. The City of Vancouver’s rate is 0.8 per cent, while Surrey sits at 0.4 per cent. White Rock has the fewest available rentals in the region, at 0.1 per cent.

Outside of Vancouver, the rate is 0.5 in Abbotsford and Mission, 0.6 per cent in Kelowna and 0.5 per cent in Victoria.

Rebate wouldn’t help with rent costs

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Greater Vancouver is $1,159, according to CMHC numbers. Abbotsford and Mission is at $744, Kelowna is $864 and Victoria is $912. Province-wide, it sits at $1,054.

Kershaw said he doesn’t think a $400 rebate will touch that. Instead, he’d like to see a province-wide application of Vancouver’s charter rights, which allow the city to tax empty homes and more effectively regulate short-term rental.

“I think we need a provincial framework,” said Kershaw. “I think we need other cities paying attention to the way Vancouver is doing things… and then adapt accordingly.

Victoria and Nelson are set to bring resolutions on the topic to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention later this month.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tamitik’s transition house full to capacity

Organisation is looking at increasing the number of available beds

UPDATE: One injured in collision near Onion Lake

The semi truck and van collided between Terrace and Kitimat at 1:45 p.m. Nov. 15.

MBay park gets provincial cash injection

The money will be used for a fully accessible 800 metre loop trail

Tax cut good news for small businesses

Small-business corporate income tax rate to drop from 2.5 to 2 per cent

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

BC Transit buses to get safety door for drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Most Read