I read with interest last week’s article in the Eagle Valley News about affordable housing in the Sicamous region.
The article speaks about new residential development in a strategy adopted by council in 2009.
The plan provides tools for the district to work with the developers to construct affordable housing, but with concessions from the contractor such as waiving development costs charges and contributing to a housing reserve fund.
The cost quoted would be a lot including a house around $190,000, subject to inflation. The sale of the package would be restricted to residents in the region that are either self-employed or working for a local business. They must also have a taxable income of $40,000-$60,000 per year.
Employment in Sicamous is a stretch and if you are fortunate to have a job in the region, the taxable income is about $20,000-$27,000 per year. This places these individuals out of the market.
The region is in a major economic slump with restaurants being placed on the realty market, and present homes listed at $290,000 or more are not selling.
Businesses in Sicamous just made it through the winter months and they are suffering with staffing problems, plus a very lean profit margin. The survivors in Sicamous and the region try their very best to spend their hard-earned money here, but in most cases, elect to travel to Salmon Arm, Enderby or Vernon where gas is at $1.29 per litre (or less), while it’s $1.36 per litre in Sicamous. Grocery shopping is the same situation with produce such as mushrooms selling for $3.15 per pound here and $1.88 per pound in Salmon Arm.
In the spring, residents think about their gardens and rely on local outlets for their plant needs. This year, one major supplier decided not to have a garden centre and, once again, instead of supporting local business, residents travel to other towns for their major garden needs.
Even our tourist market is forced to shop elsewhere. For years the region has relied on the summer resort market and that has dried up since everyone in Canada is feeling the economic downturn. What is the solution?
Affordable housing has to happen to keep families in the region, but it is time to stop the development greed and look at what we have in the region which is now standing empty and unsold.
Let’s keep our town alive.
Gary F.T. Ferns