The Dec. 4 housing motion advanced and supported by Mayor Jangula and Coun. Theos was a positive step forward. It was a set of practical, common sense measures that many municipalities
have adopted with good results. It recognized the city’s responsibility to address affordable housing and reflected discussions in which they participated as Comox Valley Regional District directors to approve the 2016 Regional Growth Strategy. Yet council defeated the motion.
Common sense tells us that the palpable effect of the recent influx of people into the Comox Valley, in terms of increased housing costs and a 0.5 per cent vacancy rate, means we have a housing affordability problem and possibly, a crisis. The 2016 Regional Growth Strategy reports that, with 46 per cent of renter households paying more than 30 per cent of their income for housing, the Comox Valley has lost ground on rental affordable housing targets since 2006 and is not on track to meet the medium term target which would see a reduction to 30 per cent (from the current 46 per cent) by 2020.
The Comox Valley is significantly over-represented in the low-income and senior age group
categories. Nationally, the percentage of seniors living on low incomes is higher than the percentage for the general population and 30 per cent of single senior women are considered low-income (triple the level of two decades ago). Extrapolation based on 2016 Statscan survey data, reveals that total low-income (2015) households in the Comox Valley expressed as a percentage of total population is 24.25 per cent compared to 16.76 per cent for the province. Further, seniors represent 25.6 per cent compared to 18.3 per cent, respectively.
To obtain our fair share of available federal and provincial program funding, we need a local government priority and plan to attract investment in affordable housing. As a community, we need to ensure that our needs and rights for safe and affordable housing are met in the Comox Valley. This is not a time for complacency or further study but a time for common sense leadership and action.