Why are rents so high?

The Nanaimo Discourse has posted its second article about housing availability and affordability in Nanaimo. I haven’t found a way to comment on the article on their website, but you can comment at their Facebook site: The Discourse - Home | Facebook

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That’s great Margy, thanks for sharing. I signed up to support Discourse - go community news gathering!!! So glad we have some independent journalism locally - maybe we can partner or just keep reposting their stuff here!

Yes, I just signed up to support this news endeavour, too. It’s so important to support good journalism. I believe it’s now partially tax-deductible, too!

When I saw this article i was confused and assumed this platform was an extension of the new news outlet in Nanaimo/Parkville…called THE DISCOURSE…but I see they are seperate!

Happy to be part of the convo.

I believe rents are high because housing sales are high. The flurry of boomer retirees(a huge amount of folks!) are hitting the coast for balmier winter air…and they have money…so the real estate market has raised to the occasion.

Maybe putting pressure on the real estate market is where we need to lean? Maybe limiting the number of new home acquisitions per annum could happen to weed out the speculation buyers?

My best idea is BRING IN THE EMPTY HOME TAX. I am concerned watching our town turn into a tourist trap and retirement village… And I want to feel welcome here still…not a “scourgey local”… Which I have felt a few times lately in the village…A surprise feeling for me .

Thanks for starting the convo, Tobi.

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Yes, I think one of the Trustees mentioned re-visiting the empty home tax as an option at Trust council (but I can’t remember who - Patrick from SSI?) I know… it’s kind of hard to get a feel for where the pressure/change is coming from, as there is lots happening at once. Tons of building going on, I’m sure some of it is locals who are also taking advantage of the quiet of COVID to renovate and do those home projects like so many are, but lots and LOTS of housing changing hands. Hard to know how much is speculative and how much like you say, is people retiring or taking their chunk from selling off in the cities and wanting a piece of the paradise!

What can be done about it? I think the empty home tax is probably too late; all the homes that were empty are probably going to be used now more than ever, if people are actually retiring here. 2nd home tax? Crack down on short term vacation (illegal) BnBs? Advocate for special permitting for suites when there is a certain case to be made, like where Grandma is coming to live in suite?

What are we looking to control here - rents, housing prices, availability of housing, slowing the sale of housing…? what is the most effective way to slow growth so we can make some changes?

And yes, sorry about the Discourse CONFUSION! Ha ha, I didn’t realize til last month that’s what the new indie journalism venture was called. Discourse the open source discussion platform has been around since 2014 What is Discourse? | Discourse - Civilized Discussion
i have been exploring using it for a long time, and then Discourse the journalism venture pops up and it was like wow, COOL! Maybe we can do some synergistic stuff together.
All I know is: DISCOURSE IS where the COOL :smile_cat:s ARE AT!! meow

I don’t think we can do much about the housing prices…it’s a crazy market, and I hope it can’t last much longer. A lot of homes that have been long time rentals are being sold because owners know they can get top dollar without doing any improvements.

The empty home (2nd home) tax is useful…there are so many homes that are vacant for most of the year. And I know people have said that some of them are family cottages that have been passed down, so it’s not fair to those people. But to my way of thinking, if you can afford to have a home, and still maintain a 2nd home, that’s a luxury…and it should be taxed at a higher rate. There could be exemptions if people are willing to rent them, but that could get into the rent for 9 months and then displace the tenants for the summer. So…it’s tricky.

As you say, Tobi, it’s all happening so fast. There definitely needs to be more flexibility on secondary suites…that’s where the most immediate gains can be made. But how do you stop landlords from gouging because they know how desperate people are.

I don’t know what the numbers are for secondary cottages on 5+ acre properties, but I would guess that few of those cottages are long-term rentals. Perhaps some kind of subsidy to encourage more building of these would work…I’m not sure.

On our ,45 acre property, we installed septic for a 3-bedroom home. We are building a 2-bdrm house, so we should be able to rent the studio above the workshop and count it as the 3rd bedroom. But it’s not allowed under current bylaws.

Also, any new commercial buildings should be required to have some form of rental suites. The Mad Rona complex was such a lost opportunity.

It’s such a complex issue, and one that should have been addressed years ago.

Rents do follow housing prices, but there’s out and out gouging going on because landlords know how desperate the rental market is. Greed on the backs of people who have few options.

Thanks for the link—that’s really interesting. I have to wonder if some of our local boom is also because of the pandemic, and people realizing that they can work from home, so why not live somewhere nice and (relative to the lower mainland) affordable?

And of course larger planning issues are relevant as well. When it feels like there’s an onslaught of buyers it gets harder to convince people to increase densities for affordable housing.

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That’s true. Increasing the rental stock is high on the minds of the Housing Advisory Planning Commission, which I serve on. It’s hard to know how to do it though without over- or under-regulating. The Gabriola Housing Working group report will be out March 16 (tomorrow) with some of the key findings from the surveys, and the final report will be out March 31 (I believe). I can’t tell you what’s in it yet (I’m not on the analysis team) but there were some very strong messages from the community for sure!

That’s great @nola . Thanks for posting. I was following the debate really closely last week and I totally appreciate Trustee Dan Rogers’ comprehensive discussion memo going into the original government reports that led to the Trust’s foundation and legislation. I referenced it in the separate topic Why does Islands Trust Policy include "Sustainable Communities"?

Yes, many people are realizing that they no longer have to be tied to an office and that, if they’re working from home, why not be in a beautiful place.

How can our services continue to operate if the workers who work in them are forced to move off-island? The median wages don’t support a daily commute. How will people who are against increasing densities feel about grocery store prices increasing or even losing some of the services we’ve become accustomed to?

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Sadly, I was unable to connect to the IT Council meeting last week.

I’m very disappointed with the position taken by of one of Gabriola’s Trustees, but I’ll reserve further comment until I’m able to watch the recording, hope it’s available this week.

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This is the thing, isn’t it? Years ago (we’re talking 1990s-ish) I visited Atlin a few times. This was a tiny town with a winter population of about 400, no industry or other local employment, and a lot of artists. And prices had been inflated, according to the locals I talked to, by wealthy Americans from Juneau and some Germans buying holiday homes. The result was that no young people who grew up there could afford to buy land there. I don’t know what the situation is now, and I don’t know if/how the demographics have changed, but I glanced at listing and it looks like they’re not cheap. (I love the Atlin warnings to people who “go all gaga” about the place: living in atlin and places for sale)

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Also, in the framing of the current situation I’m often reminded of that old joke, updated… Preservation, services, cheap. Pick two.

I hope we can find a balance that can accommodate all of them reasonably.

@nola one of my friends who has lived a long time on Gabriola (relatively, 25 years) used to tell me “shhhhh, don’t tell anyone” whenever I would wax poetical about the natural beauty of this place. Now I get it. :roll_eyes:

@margygilmour I don’t think we can exactly blame any one factor: tourism, retiring baby boomers, COVID-fueled in-migration, marketing, real estate speculation… I think they are all contributing factors. They key is what are we going to do about it? What is the right approach to regulation and policy-creation so there is support for the kind of community we want to create, and suppression of the worst impacts of the kind of growth we don’t want to generate.

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Ha! Yes, people are still saying, “Don’t tell anyone!”

And yes Margy, it’s a perfect storm of things coming together and you’re absolutely right about focusing on solutions.

Yes. Nola, I know Atlin (or knew Atlin 20 yrs ago)and it was a gorgeous mecca of the North. The tourists buying property was happening then too…I imagine it is insanity now.

And Tobi yes, this is why I do not post “locations” on any of my beach pics!

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