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The housing issues for Delta

No matter who you speak with during this election, housing issues are at the forefront.
Peter van der Velden
Peter van der Velden (Independent)

Editor’s note: this is a press release from Peter van der Velden independent candidate for mayor

No matter who you speak with during this election, housing issues are at the forefront.

If you look at the statistics there are more houses on the market and fewer are being sold.

It is a buyers’ market. This indicates availability. Certainly, in both North Delta and South Delta, developers are still buying up properties and replacing existing homes with new homes.

Mayor Harvie has coined the phrase, “We have a housing crisis.”

When actually what we really have in Delta is an “affordability crisis.”

Until this election, the only form of housing being discussed is market priced housing.

According to Stats Canada the median income of Canadian families and unattached individuals was an after-tax amount of $55,700 in 2020. If you take 1/3rd of that as the amount of monthly income available for housing you have a little over $1,500. This sum does not allow for a large choice in housing in Delta. Looking online you will find one, one bedroom apartment available at that price.

In the past year there have been a number of affordable housing units bought by investors. There are records of rents being raised from $900 per month to $1,800 per month once a tenant leaves. The housing market is not short on availability; it is short on ‘housing’ and long on ‘investment’.

Claiming pride in their work on this issue, the current council is short on coming through in any real sense. There are tools available to the council that have not been used. The board of variance is such tool. When variances are applied for, the city has the option to require lower income housing be a part of the proposal. As well the council can take steps to encourage co-operative housing development and encourage rental development. None of this has been done.

With the “housing crisis” terminology the current council is trying to emphasize the need for densification while claiming to preserve the character and quality of our communities. Speaking with many Deltans it is quite clear that this is not particularly popular. People are in agreement that if character and quality of life is to be preserved, we need medium density, not high density.

Certainly, the six-story proposal for Ladner is high density and will all be strata units. Again, at market valuation and thus not affordable to the median income. Hardly what would qualify as “historic housing agreements” nor is it in keeping with the historic downtown character of Ladner.

A properly directed council would see to it that mixed housing and availability is addressed if there is indeed a crisis. We do need retirement housing and housing for young families. We simply cannot achieve these with more market priced densification. If we want young families and seniors to share our communities more aggressive steps need to be taken to achieve that.

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