Last week I read the headline in the Oliver Daily News, this publication asking the question. Is there a housing shortage in the South Okanagan? The only town not experiencing a housing shortage is the ghost town of Barkerville. The truth is there is a housing shortage in BC and many parts of the country. It is a problem of our own collective making, housing is not the only problem either. In our madness to avoid increased taxes we painted ourselves into a societal corner.
The problem is there are infrastructure problems in almost every genre of our society. Think about it, our roads have not been kept up, our schools are in need of funding, the medical system is in need of increased funding and the list goes on. Keeping this in mind, is anyone surprised there might be a housing shortage?
Western Canada is growing for many reasons. A lifestyle that boasts fresh air and a wide array of activities. Climate is conducive to people wanting to move here. More and more tech jobs are trickling into the valley and buyers from off shore are investing in property. Many rental units for locals are being converted to bed and breakfasts or fly in B&B’s increasing the economic base of income. A house that once rented for fifteen hundred a month can rent for fifteen hundred a week.
There are other issues too, insurance costs have skyrocketed in the past few years due to increased risk from climate hazards such as forest fires. Services such as sewer, water, power etc are all going up. Land costs are dictating changes in what is being constructed and the battle for ownership or rental prospects are forcing many out of the realm of competition for accommodation. The sad fact is we haven’t seen the end of it yet.
So what do we need and who is going to provide affordable housing? Good question, there is even debate over what affordable means. I think at some point when the middle class has had enough, pressure will mount for action to be taken. At present, seniors, lower middle income, young singles and the poor have born the brunt of the problem. When the middle class barks the government starts making room in the kennel.
The story of how we got here is even worse. The sad fact is we have no one to blame for this mess but ourselves. It started about thirty years ago when the words “It’s good enough” crept into the vocabulary. Good enough, restraint, keep taxes low, don’t fix it if its working. All this baffle gab led us to believe we didn’t have to keep pace with maintaining our infrastructure in live time dollars. Time increases the cost of everything. Leaving roads, bridges, and institutions such as education, the justice system the medical system leads to increased costs and lack of adequate service. Here is a prime example. Looking back, would the citizens of the South Okanagan been willing to pay more for policing costs and have the safety of their community, above question? That didn’t happen here or in many parts of the country.
The problem is we want quality but we no longer want to pay for it. We have embraced mediocrity. We embraced the same in our political society as well so we just add the housing shortage to all the other things we didn’t prepare for. The outcome is we are going to pay a lot more in the long run and all those politicians that promised low taxes will be retired and accessing their pensions while you and I are holding the bag paying for it all