The Town of Qualicum Beach is seeking public feedback on a proposed 56-unit affordable housing development. The property at Village Way and Railway Street was designated by the town for the project last year and has been leased to Kiwanis Housing Society.
“Income growth in Qualicum Beach has not kept pace with the price of housing, further exacerbating the affordability issue. The different rates of inflation for wages and housing is making it increasingly difficult to bridge the affordability gap,” reads an overview of the proposal on the town’s website.
The project is intended to provide housing for people who are already living, working or studying in the community. This includes people working in Qualicum Beach who cannot afford to live in town because of the lack of available affordable housing, according to the town. It will also support families with children in local schools.
“The biggest correlating factor in our area for homelessness is actually just the cost of housing. If rents become very expensive — and they are, the floor of our rental market is expensive, you are going to see an uptick in homelessness,” said Coun. Scott Harrison.
An affordable housing needs assessment in 2009 highlighted an unmet demand in the rental market for fixed income seniors and families, the town said. The study led to the creation of 34 new affordable housing units in 2015, adjacent to the community park.
When the housing needs assessment was completed, the average sale price of a home in the Parksville-Qualicum area was $369,4456, the town said — it has since grown to over $500,000, according to Canadian Real Estate magazine.
“I don’t feel in Oceanside we talk about the impacts of an over-heated housing market enough because they are pretty wide ranging. It impacts a lot of the economy too because it is hard to find workers and hard to retain good young workers,” Harrison said.
Project development is being led by Kiwanis and funding will come through a combination of grants and loans from BC Housing and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, according to the town.