VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is urging the provincial government to support communities and the economy through a spectrum of housing options and initiatives.
On Jan. 19, Chamber representatives met with Ravi Kahlon, BC’s minister of housing, and Harwinder Sandhu, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
“We appreciate Minister Kahlon and MLA Sandhu taking time to meet with us and we welcome the very significant issue of housing being the mandate of a stand-alone ministry within the government,” said Dan Proulx, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.
“It was important to let the minister know that there is an obvious need for complex care in our community and the focus on supportive housing is fundamental to move individuals off the street. However, there also needs to be an emphasis on housing for the working middle-class that are being priced out of the market.”
The Chamber will continue to engage with the Ministry of Housing on additional information and recommendations. Among the potential discussion points are:
- Incentives to the private sector to build multi-family residences including financing;
- Financial supports that assist first-time home buyers such as increasing the property transfer tax threshold;
- Working closely with municipalities and regional districts to identify appropriate locations for all types of housing;
- Collaboration between the provincial government, local government, business organizations and non-profits to advocate to the Government of Canada for housing funding and support.
“We regularly hear from businesses and non-profit organizations that struggle to retain or attract staff because of the high cost of housing, either to purchase or rent. That is compounding the labour shortage and means businesses may have to curtail hours or reduce service,” said Proulx.
“The lack of middle-income housing is even creating challenges for the health care sector as health care professionals struggle with the lack of affordability and availability. Real solutions to housing and labour must be found that involve all levels of government, non-profits, and the private sector.”
Dan Proulx is the Manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce