Kelowna unaffordable, real or myth?
Oct 26, 2012 / 5:00 pm
The City of Kelowna needs to get the word out - the city is not as unaffordable as people think.
"I think there is a myth out there that housing in Kelowna is the most expensive in Canada or among the most expensive in Canada," Mayor Walter Gray stated while speaking to nearly 200 members of the Urban Development Institute (UDI) Thursday afternoon.
"We have to debunk that myth,"
During his address recapping nearly one year in office, Gray says the myth Kelowna is unaffordable 'needs to be corrected.'
He says partners such as UDI, the Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce all have to help get the word out.
"It's taking it's toll. It's holding us back," says Gray.
"A house isn't just about writing the cheque and getting a mortgage. As soon as you have it, there are automatically other costs associated. Taxes are absolute and you have to have water, you have to have power, you have to have all of those things."
Gray stated the cost of housing in cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay and Victoria are much more than Kelowna when you factor in taxes and utilities costs.
"Kelowna property taxes are considerably less. That's a big factor in the cost of housing," says Gray.
In comparison, Gray stated the homeowner of an average $430,000 house in Kelowna would pay about $4,700 a year in taxes and utilities.
He stated that a comparable $400,000 home in Edmonton would wrack up a yearly tax and utility bill of more than $5,800 while a home worth $385,000 in Saskatoon would be hit with a yearly tax and utility bill of more than $6,000.
"Where did this myth come from?" asked Gray.
The mayor also indicated the development community appears to be turning the corner.
Gray says in the third quarter of this year, $89M in development permits were granted.
"That is $32M more than 2011."
After a disastrous start to the year, Gray says 2012 is actually 4 per cent better than a year ago in terms of development permit applications.
Gray also stated, in terms of percentage of population, Kelowna is the fourth fastest growing city in Canada behind Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon.
Meantime, those taxes the mayor was speaking of, will definitely be going up in 2013.
After coming in with a 1.12 per cent tax increase in 2012, Gray admitted the taxpaying public can expect something closer to, if not more than 2 per cent next year.
While the budget won't even be debated until December in Council Chambers, Gray says taxpayers can't expect to see something like last year.
"I guess I'm trying to brace them for the fact it isn't going to be zero and it isn't going to be 1.1. It's going to be more this year because of specific projects," says Gray.
"I think it's going to be over two but we don't know that for sure because the budget process is just starting. We know some of the things that have to be put into the budget can't be put off any longer."
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