Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula says some remarks he made about affordable housing Tuesday at regional district committee of the whole were taken out of context.
A presentation said the CVRD is lagging behind when it comes to affordable housing goals. The district uses a 30 per cent rule where households that spend 30 per cent or more of total income on rent and accommodation have a housing affordability problem.
At the meeting, Jangula questioned how local governments can fix housing issues, but did not mean that he is not trying to help the working poor. The point he was trying to make is that the price of real estate and construction — hence the return that builders glean from an investment — is a market decision and is not determined by the City of Courtenay.
Jangula feels it was implied that the reason rents in Courtenay were higher than the 30 per cent threshold was the City’s fault and that Courtenay could fix it.
“We are trying to work on it,” he said.
For instance, Jangula has met with two individuals who have purchased a large number of rental units in the Valley. Also, City staff is in the process of creating a tax-free zone downtown, where people build something new on existing properties, such as the old theatre site. The idea is to give them time to get something built and to get it going.
“The problem with rentals is it’s about supply and demand, and that’s driven the price up,” Jangula said. “I understand, it’s very hard to find a place to rent.”
But City Hall needs to be careful, he added. If builders face too many restrictions, they will leave town.
He feels developers need to be encouraged to build in the downtown core, from the Courtenay River to 4th, up to McPhee and over to 17th.
“We need hundreds, if not thousands (of units),” Jangula saids. “We’ve never had an opportunity to even work with a developer, because no one’s come to us with anything. So we’re trying to come to them.”