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Published On: Thursday, 03 August 2017

Summerland Businesses Talk Affordable Housing

Summerland Businesses Talk Affordable Housing

- Christine Petkau is Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.

SUMMERLAND - Last week, a number of Summerland Chamber business members along with our largest community partners, met with the team from Cherie Enns Consulting to discuss affordable housing in Summerland. The consulting firm has recently been hired by the District of Summerland to conduct a housing study in our community.

Housing challenges have long been a hot point in Summerland and were raised repeatedly in the Business Walks the Chamber and District conducted in October of 2016. The consulting firm was interested in engaging with our business members as key stakeholders in employment, development and sustainability of our community.

The discussion was excellent and covered why the issue is so important to local businesses and what opportunities we might have for innovative solutions. Affordable housing and economic development certainly go hand in hand.

The group recognized that in recent years, manufacturers have struggled to retain staff due to lack of reasonably priced housing, hospitality employers struggle to find staff that can afford to live in the community throughout an expanded tourism season, and young families have been prevented from moving to the community because they can’t find an affordable home.

A lack of young families has had a domino effect in that one elementary school was in danger of closing because of reduced enrollment. It’s clear that this issue is having a real impact on the local workforce.

The group also made suggestions of what types of housing options are most needed. In the spectrum of affordability, the most pressing needs expressed focused on rental units and entry level home ownership that could be achieved on a manufacturing wage. Suggestions for entry level home ownership included modest town homes, micro homes and even floating homes that could be developed in a marina type environment.

Creativity will be required to address our community’s housing needs and this report will be an excellent step toward measuring and addressing the challenge.