The housing crisis in Lake Country is at a tipping point according to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central-Okanagan (CHBA-CO).
The association has reacted to a housing needs assessment presented to district council on July 18.
Lake Country Planning and Development Manager Brian Zurek told council that approximately 250 new housing units need to be built every year until 2031 to meet population growth and demand.
“Right now the annual new units we’ve been creating wouldn’t be estimated to meet the need,” he added.
Zurek said that 67 per cent of new units would need to be one and two bedrooms, and one-third of those would be needed by households making less than $50,000 a year.
Lake County has the highest monthly housing costs for single-home dwellings compared to Vernon, Kelowna and Regional District Central Okanagan according to the assessment. Monthly rentals are similar to Kelowna but higher than Vernon.
There is limited housing diversity in Lake Country, with 66 per cent of housing units being single-detached dwellings.
Zurek noted that there has been progress towards additional multi-family units to fill the gap.
“But with the growing and continued demand for new units, it would be a challenge to serve low and moderate-income households going forward.”
Short-term rentals are also a concern according to Zurek, potentially reducing the availability of rental housing, driving up costs and demands on housing affordability.
“We say there’s up to 29 per cent of units in the district that might be short-term vacation rentals.”
Coun. Cara Reed asked what could be done to prevent a significant portion of new housing from becoming short-term rentals.
“Because that undermines what we’re trying to do, providing affordable housing for the missing middle and low-income families,” she said.
The CHBA-CO wants Lake Country council, and community leaders to find a way to address the problem.
“By working together, we can create a Lake Country where every individual has access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing,” said Dan Winer, executive officer.