Rental scene tight in Parksville

Mayor-elect Marc Lefebvre muses about the possible use of city-owned land for affordable housing

The average cost of rent in Parksville is $871 per month and residents are spending nearly one-third of their income just to keep a roof above their head. If they are fortunate enough to have found a place to rent.

Those are among the findings in the Rental Housing Index, released earlier this month by the B.C. Non Profit Housing Association who measured average rental prices around the province based on numbers from Statistics Canada.

The research is “the first of its kind” according to the association’s senior policy analyst James Roy, who said despite a common misconception that young people are more likely the rent, their client-base consists mostly of independent seniors.

“Renters are definitely not just kids,” said Roy, adding the association represents more than 700 non profit housing societies. “Our number one client is independent seniors.”

Parksville Qualicum Beach is known around the country for its high percentage of seniors.

According to the index, the average cost of rent in the Regional District of Nanaimo jumps to $900; however the RDN boasts 14,330 renter households whereas Parksville only has 1,260.

Qualicum Beach was not included in the study.

Parksville mayor-elect Marc Lefebvre said “availability” is the biggest problem with rental accommodations in the city.

During his campaign, Lefebvre floated the idea of developing the piece of property bordered by the Alberni Highway, Jensen Avenue and Craig Street into some form of affordable housing.

“I’m not saying I’m in favour of it but it’s a discussion I’d like to have,” he said. “Affordable housing is a tough nut to crack.”

Lefebvre would not comment on whether or not he believed the price of rent in relation to the economic opportunities in the city hindered growth in Parksville.

“That’s something I need to look into,” he said.

Lefebvre did mention that he believes the low number of vacancy rentals in Parksville stems from “the lack of tax incentives to build rentals.”

He said he wants to work with senior levels of government in the future to tackle the issue.

And this is exactly the type of conversation the Rental Housing Index was hoping to inspire.

“There’s not much (information) out there on rent, most media is focused on ownership and how expensive it is to buy, but there just hasn’t been that much in terms of rent,” explains Roy. “We wanted to highlight that because about one-third of British Columbians rent.”

Roy said renters in B.C. are being “left out of the discussion on affordability” and this index is meant to “put data out there and get the ball rolling.”

The index cites West Vancouver as having the highest rent in the province at $1,555, while Ladysmith has the lowest rent at $823.

For more information on the cost of rent in B.C. visit www.bcnpha.ca.

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