Kelowna does not innovate

I moved to Kelowna in 1990, and unfortunately the story stays the same. We have city government that reacts rather than plans ahead. One of these areas that this is clearly present is in the housing crisis our city now faces. For as long as I can remember we have faced the need to expand and instead up we went out. One of Kelowna’s top-rated neighbourhoods has fallen victim to this thinking. Kettle Valley was developed on the out skirts of town, it is also a neighbourhood that requires a daily commute of over an hour in city of less than 200,000 people. 

We have a city that favors developers over actual home owners. Recently the city expanding new zonings to allow for more development, but the reality is the only people that can afford this are the developers. Walk down any streets in central Kelowna and you will see lots being redeveloped by local developers to be flipped. The city has failed to make any changes that provide for affordable options for home owners. 

In an attempt to help with the current housing crisis, the city approved 3500 condos, but this was a reaction and we will have to wait 3.5 years for any of those homes to be ready. Watch out condo buyers, buying now may not be the right choice. When all of those units hit the market right around the same time, we might see a crash in prices. The developers will make the money up front because of the lack of availability now, while the home owners will pay the cost later when the market is flooded. We saw this same cycle nearly a decade ago, that left multiple condo developments half finished and abandoned across the city.   

What the city fails to look at time and time again, is affordable semi-permanent home solutions. Tiny homes and modular units fit this category. Homes that can either be brought with them by potential renters or can be moved if and when an area gets redeveloped. These solutions would cost a home owner a minimal up-front cost of getting an area prepared and services run and has a minimal construction phase impact on a neighbourhood. These homes can be designed to look just like regular homes but do not require the same foundations as regular homes. If a neighbourhood gets rezoned, these homes don’t get torn down and thrown in a land fill, making them a safer investment for potential home owners and a greener solution for our city.   

Many of the lots that are zoned for multiple dwellings are in the down town area, an area that is quickly being redeveloped.  For many home owners building a carriage home on their property is a non-starter. Why go through the process and cost involved in adding more buildings, if they are simply holding out for another big development to come in and buy out another city block. 

The city of Kelowna continues to regurgitate the same failing standards that we have seen in regions across Canada. Standards that have created our current climate of housing crisis’. The city needs to seriously start considering new and innovative housing solutions. Our mayor touts our city as one of the top cities to live in, and to start a business in, but the reality is while that may be true, finding housing is preventing the required work force from coming to town. The lack of affordability is sending young families to other areas of the country. We are making it impossible or at the very least very difficult for the very people we are trying to attract to our community to come here.

Dan Byl 

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