Kelowna offers incentives to developers to ease rental housing woes

Fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada struggles with a rock-bottom vacancy rate

Developers in Kelowna are taking advantage of incentives designed by the city to encourage rental housing at a time when new units are desperately needed.
Kelowna city council recently finalized purpose-built rental housing agreements with six developers. Each will construct one building, for a total of 329 units. The city provided grants to each project, totaling $286,000, and also allowed the developers extra units on the sites.
“We definitely need rental units,” Mayor Colin Basran told the Kelowna Daily Courier. “Our estimates indicate we need at least 300 new rental units per year to keep up. For the first time, we met that in 2015.”
Two of the buildings will offer subsidized rents to First Nations and Métis residents, and another will offer rental suites to students at UBC Okanagan.
Kelowna, which was recently named the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada, has recently felt some growing pains. While its booming tech industry, arts scene and new downtown restaurant and bars have been popular draws for a younger generation, it has not kept up with the need for rental apartments. The latest numbers from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, released in October 2015, show the apartment vacancy rate to be .7 per cent.

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