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West Vancouver Young Adults Declining in Population

New provincial budget a serious problem, according to mayor

West Vancouver recently approved construction of its first rental housing project due to a housing crisis pushing young people away. Photo Ana Rose Walkey.
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Reported by Ana Rose Walkey

At least half of residents age 25 to 45 have left West Vancouver in the past few years due to an affordability crisis, according to the district’s mayor.

“We have a serious problem in West Van — we have no rental accommodation, can’t get employees,” West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith said at a recent Metro Vancouver regional planning committee meeting.

And, according to Smith, tax revenue that could be put towards building affordable housing is being put in the hands of the provincial government, by way of the “horrific” 2018 provincial budget that put an extra tax on houses over $3 million.

“You can’t hide your house, so it’s a much better source of revenue for [the provincial government] than income tax,” said Smith, adding that this tax will leave West Vancouver “gutted like a fish”.

West Vancouver approves its first rental housing project

Affordability in the Metro Vancouver region has been a problem for years. While the province of B.C. is promising it will ensure 114,000 units of affordable housing are built in the next decade, West Vancouver only recently approved construction of its first new rental housing project in 40 years.

Eight-year West Vancouver resident Teana-Marie Smith said her experience with renting in the district has been quite positive.

“I started at $930 for [my] apartment. I have a full onebedroom apartment and I have friends that pay that for a room in downtown,” resident Smith said. “I’m up now to $1,100 ‘cause it goes up every year. I think I’m at $1,130, but that’s also for parking. It’s so great.”

Smith acknowledged, though, that she feels that her deal is a fluke and that the rent would be much higher for the next tenant.

“If I moved out right now, the next person that moved in would probably be paying like 1,500 dollars —  it would be insane,” she said. “But none of us here move. Why would we leave? Our rent is so cheap!”

North Van welcomes West Van residents

The average cost to buy a home in West Vancouver, according to a report released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in February 2018, is $2.7 million — about $1.5 million dollars more than the average in North Vancouver.

As well, the average rent of the 2,342 rental units in West Van is $1,833, with less than one per cent available. The City of North Vancouver, however, has an average rental rate of $1,377 with about two per cent of 6,191 units available.

Darrell Mussatto, mayor of the City of North Vancouver, said a number of people have been moving from West Van to North Vancouver to take advantage of the more affordable housing options.

Mussatto spoke of the importance of municipal governments working to move towards more affordable housing while in such a big crisis, something that he said West Vancouver’s mayor may not be willing to do.

“He’s upset that that’s going to cost him more money,” Mussatto said. “[But], that’s change. [This is] a classic example of people not wanting change. West Van’s shrinking in population. You need to bring about more changes to solve these complex issues of housing.”

Mussatto’s city has recently seen a boom in the construction of rental housing, due to its plan aimed at supporting construction for lower-income families.

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