The future housing project developed by SHARE Nelson on Falls Street for working singles and couples of limited income. This is one of several low income housing projects in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Report presents grim Nelson housing stats

Mayor Dooley calls out neighbouring communities for lack of action on low income housing

Thirty-one per cent of renters and eight per cent of owners in Nelson spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

Almost half of renters are considering moving away from Nelson because of the difficulty in finding housing.

Those are two examples of survey results and conclusions included in a new housing report presented to council at its Sept. 29 meeting. The report covers demographics, household size, incomes, real estate market, and housing affordability.

Mayor John Dooley said nothing in the report is new. He’s been hearing the same information now for decades, he told council, and he chastised other communities in the region for not building enough low-income housing and letting Nelson carry the regional load.

The housing information for Nelson and area was extracted from the 750-page regional housing report prepared for the Regional District of Central Kootenay, and was presented to Nelson council by consultant Sandy Mackay, one of the report’s authors.

The information covers the City of Nelson as well as Areas E and F of the RDCK, which include both sides of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake from Balfour to Blewett, Cottonwood Lake, and Bonnington.

Additional highlights presented by Mackay included:

• The population is growing and aging. The population is expected to increase from 11,045 in 2016 to 11,910 by 2025.

• In 2016, 14 per cent of the population was over 65. By 2025, the 65-plus crowd will comprise 21 per cent.

• Household size is declining, meaning growth rate in demand for homes will exceed the population growth rate.

• The number of renters is increasing across nearly all age groups. Renters are less likely to be able to meet their housing needs than owners.

• The median annual income for owners is $68,896, and for renters $36,647, which Mackay says is similar throughout the region.

• 8.2 per cent of combined renters and owners combined spend more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.

• Rental housing is more expensive and harder to find.

• Owner-occupied housing is increasingly expensive. Prices have escalated most in denser, ground-oriented housing types (semi-detached and townhouses).

• There is increased “hidden homelessness” and use of food banks.

• People are renting further from services and commuting further.

The council discussion of the report can be viewed here at 48:50:

Mackay said the report is for council’s information and does not include solutions.

“What we have given you is the what and the who,” he told council. “It is up to you to figure out the how.”

However, the report does make some suggestions, by highlighting the need for non-market housing that is affordable in perpetuity, increased funding from senior government, and non-profit operated housing.

“Nelson has the most advanced policy environment in the region,” he said, “so you are already doing a lot.”

Mackay’s report to council can be found here.

City council received the report for information and did not decide anything at the meeting.

Permissive tax exemptions

Mayor John Dooley pointed out that two new subsidized housing projects in Nelson – SHARE housing under construction on Falls Street and the Nelson CARES building under construction on Nelson Avenue – have asked council for permissive tax exemptions this year.

“If those were [built by] the private sector,” Dooley said, “we would get substantial taxation annually and now we are being asked for tax exemptions, and now that will show up on [other Nelson residents’] tax requisition to pay the difference. So this is driving prices up and giving an additional subsidy [in addition to funding from the provincial government] to subsidized housing.

“It is not fair that this burden comes to the city year after year,” he said.

In addition to those two new projects, the city has previously given full or partial tax exemptions for housing built and run by non-profits, namely Nelson CARES residential housing on Vernon Street, Ward Street, and Nelson Avenue (since demolished), as well as two buildings run by the Kiwanis Society in Fairview.

City manager Kevin Cormack added that in some cases other residents of Nelson, either renters or owners, might have lower incomes and higher taxes than the residents of the new buildings, resulting in an equity issue.

Dooley: Other communities need to step up

Dooley said the report is nothing new.

“It is tiring at this table,” he said. “I watched Judy Gayton [a Nelson city councillor in the 1990s], who was a leader in this community years ago in getting housing in here, and here we are in 2020 having the same conversation, being asked the same questions, and I look around our region and people are writing letters and complaining about a shortage of housing but nobody else is delivering the product.”

He said Nelson is the only city in the region with a number of subsidized housing projects for low-income people.

More West Kootenay cities need to step up, he said.

“We need more housing built in places like Kaslo, Nakusp, New Denver, Castlegar, Trail. We need a regional approach to housing and the key to this is my opinion will be shared responsibility for housing. … The RDCK was not asked for a tax exemption for example like we were tonight.”

He said that even though Nelson is “delivering the product” it is not making a difference.

“We have changed building regulations, started laneway housing, relaxation of [fees on secondary] suites, and on and on and on. Senior levels of government that want to subsidize these units should subsidize the whole thing.”

Councillor Jesse Woodward said that an average house price in Nelson of $1 million is about five years away.

“That is daunting,” he said. “I don’t think we have all the answers here at the table, but it is the future of our town we are talking about here in terms of the kind of community that we are going to have, and million dollar homes is a certain kind of community.”

Related:

Housing situation in RDCK very difficult, says report

Nelson lacks enough supportive housing to meet homeless demand: report

Nelson council debates tax exemptions

https://www.nelsonstar.com/news/nelson-council-debates-tax-exemptions/



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

affordable housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

BC ELECTION
Voting day: Elk Valley braves the cold to vote for next MLA

Today is the last chance for voters to have their say

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

The Local Store is currently open for online harvest orders. (Photo Contributed)
Local Store launches online harvest orders

The orders must be placed prior to Oct. 27 for pick-up or delivery on Oct 30

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read