When it comes to affordability, the province needs to start looking at Squamish like it’s part of the Lower Mainland. We’re feeling the same crunch, whether their data reflects it or not.
The 2018 budget document targeted growing communities affected by the Vancouver housing crisis for a new tax that would discourage foreign purchasing. Squamish was forgotten, and the District is still determining if that was deliberate or an oversight.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman sent a letter to Finance Minister Carole James asking about the decision, but as of [Squamish Chief’s] print time, hadn’t heard back.
At a March 20 committee meeting, Heintzman said she had a conversation with MLA Jordan Sturdy about the tax, and both politicians were concerned that the “government didn’t have any idea about the cost of housing in Squamish.”
In 2017, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released updated average rental costs for communities across the province, including Squamish.
The 2017 survey lists no price for a bachelor apartment — there just simply isn’t enough available to provide a statistic. A one bedroom apparently is $1,036 while the average two bedroom goes for $1,161, apparently.
Stranger still, the price of a three-bedroom townhouse rental is listed at $1,479.
The survey does acknowledge that vacancy rates for Squamish are very low across the board and contribute to the problem.
Those numbers don’t reflect the true cost of renting for those looking at apartment listings.
The numbers for Vancouver (which includes the Lower Mainland suburbs) are more familiar: average one bedrooms start at $1,223, while two bedrooms go for $1,552 and three-bedrooms $1,800.
As any renter in Squamish who arrived in the past five years can tell you, a single bedroom in a five-person house will cost you $700. For a single professional who isn’t keen on roommates, expect an above-ground one bedroom to run you closer to $1,300 or $1,500 per month.
Squamish might be an extra 45 minutes up the highway, but our costs are increasingly connected to Vancouver’s housing crisis.
There’s plenty of debate on the best way to fix that – and maybe the foreign buyers tax isn’t the best way to affect rentals or housing values – but if the province is introducing measures to protect the Lower Mainland, they need to remember that Squamish needs the help too.