Housing issue little changed
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 06:00 am
Well, another year has passed in our Bow Valley and, as always, there have been successes and failures, highlights and lowlights.
Overall, in our opinion, the affordable housing issue tops the list as falling into the failure/lowlight category.
In regard to our perpetual affordable housing issue, of course, the concept of success or failure depends on your point of view.
If you side with those in our communities who believe the very future of our communities as welcoming communities depends on developing housing that will make the valley affordable for all, the situation is dim, as little progress was made during 2016.
If you favour the NIMBY approach to affordable housing, then you’ve likely enjoyed small victories in the year past.
While affordable housing projects (rental and ownership models) have moved along in fits and starts as our municipal governments try to deal with the issue on their own – generally lacking support from the development community – legal wrangling, opposition to every project put forward, and appeals of projects themselves, or parking related to them – has pretty much stalled any forward momentum (victory?).
Thus, while affordable housing remains a hot topic for many citizens, politicians and business owners in our community, for others, the fact there has been no traction in developing housing will come as a relief.
Should the anti-affordable housing faction, whether people be of the NIMBY or parking-related focus, win out, though, we wonder about the valley’s future going forward.
For example, we feel it’s safe to say that young people arrive in this valley as seasonal workers with the idea of embracing a valley and mountain lifestyle they can’t experience in their hometowns. We also feel it’s safe to say those same young people won’t continue to show up if the Bow Valley experience becomes one of long hours, substandard living conditions, low wages and little recognition of their value to our communities and the businesses within them.
Small businesses that are really the lifeblood of our communities may reach the point where they simply can no longer cope with never-ending issues of staff retention, management burnout and, possibly, an irreversible descent into red ink.
Should our valley communities become less popular as word gets out concerning substandard living conditions (let alone traffic and parking problems and little bang for a tourism buck), who, then, will pour your morning java, tune your mountain bike, assist you in purchasing your new high-tech fleece garment, or change your oil?
Moving up in the pay scale, is it reasonable to expect that children born and raised here should automatically move elsewhere as there are no affordable options for home ownership? Not everyone is willing to live in an apartment or condo and shell out outrageous management fees. Not everyone wants to rent for the rest of their lives, or have no opportunity to purchase a modest first home, say, then pour some sweat equity into it.
Further, should the affordable housing situation not be dealt with in some way, is the Bow Valley’s future one which is mostly bereft of young families with children who can’t afford to live here? Where young seasonal workers shun the valley and stay closer to home where affordability can mean the difference between putting away some money for post-secondary education, or not? Where only those in the upper echelons of income feel comfortable with the cost of living in our valley?