Opinion

Rental housing needs to keep up with booming mining industry in the Elk Valley

Mining in the Elk Valley is growing, with more people moving to the area to work in the sector. The problem is finding these people somewhere to live.

The shortage of rental housing in the valley means the economy is only able to grow as much as the housing allows. Mine workers aren’t going to move here if they can’t find a rental unit for the duration of their contract. If we want to attract and retain workers, we need to offer them housing.

Part of the reason for the low supply of rental housing is that it is more lucrative for developers to build homes and condos for the homeownership market, while they often lose money when developing rental housing. As a result of this shortage, rental housing prices are continuing to rise. As demand outstrips supply, fewer and fewer people will be able to find affordable housing.

In B.C. less than 10 per cent of all new builds are for the purpose of rental. But when house prices in the Elk Valley are so high, many people don’t have an option other than renting.

It is good to see an investor in Sparwood addressing this issue, with the complete restoration of the Pinecrest Apartments for rental. One of the three 12-unit buildings located on Pine Avenue has received a major refresher and is ready to be rented out for February. Before the last coat of paint was dry in the units, all but one of the apartments in the first building was rented out, showing the huge demand for rental units in the town.

The investor has obviously done enough research to know how high the demand is, and that those units will never sit empty.

The other two buildings will now be renovated and will no doubt be rented just as fast. Not only is this project meeting a demand for rental housing, it is also rejuvenating buildings in Sparwood that had become an eyesore. Hopefully this project will encourage further investment in rental housing in the valley, and in turn encourage long term workers to the area.

 

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