The high cost of housing and mortgage payments remains a big concern for residents in Kelowna-Lake Country, particularly young people, new families and seniors.
This is sadly not surprising, considering the startling statistics on the worsening state of Canada's housing crisis.
Any argument that Canada’s housing crisis is primarily globally affected can easily be refuted. The OECD reported Canada has the greatest difference between wages and housing prices in the G7. Housing prices just across the border in the U.S. are half what they are in Canada. Vancouver and Toronto are in the top 10 most expensive housing price markets in the world.
The average asking monthly rental for a one-bedroom apartment in Kelowna is $2,121, and for a two-bedroom apartment it is $2,876. Rentals.ca's National Rent Rankings now list Kelowna as Canada's ninth most expensive rental market, ahead of Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.
The Association of Interior Realtors’ September 2023 data shows the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Central Okanagan is now $1,006,300, while a townhouse has a benchmark price of $762,000.
We also see concerning signs in Canada's mortgage market, with recent stories of B.C. residents returning to renting because they're unable to manage the impact of decades-high interest rates increasing payments unsustainably.
The Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer outlined the impact of the federal government's tax and spending policies, which have kept inflation high and the benchmark interest rate held at 5%.
Canadians are not seeing the benefit from the government's billions in spending even when they say it's being put towards tackling our housing crisis.
I recently questioned the new Liberal housing minister at a parliamentary committee. I asked him, considering the rising rate of homelessness, what date he estimates the government's multi-billion-dollar Housing Accelerator Program would cause homelessness rates to decrease.
Unfortunately, he was unable to answer. That was not surprising considering the Auditor General of Canada reported the federal government doesn't know if any of its initiatives to reduce chronic homelessness are working.
Conservative MPs in the House of Commons are looking to act now. The Leader of the Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, recently proposed a Private Member Bill, the Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act which would require cities to build more homes and speed up the rate at which they build homes every year to meet higher housing targets.
The act provides a 100% GST rebate on new residential rental property where the average rent payable is below market rate. It requires the housing minister to report on the inventory of federal buildings and land suitable for housing construction and to propose a plan to sell at least 15% and to place these properties on the market within 18 months.
The Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act would ensure Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) executives only receive bonuses if housing targets are met and applications for new construction are approved within 60 days.
At the same committee meeting I mentioned, Conservative MPs pressed the housing minister on how the CMHC could justify paying nearly $27 million in executive bonuses in 2022, considering housing is so unaffordable to many and the CMHC is clearly not meeting its mandate.
These are common-sense solutions to help alleviate the housing crisis in Canada. Some of the hardest hit are Canadian young adults, where nine out of 10 say they have given up on home ownership.
This isn’t what previous generations experienced while building a life and family.
If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].
Tracy Gray os the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.