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IN OUR VIEW: Renters need more help in tight market

We need a lot more of the right kind of rental housing in B.C.
Langley’s Emmaus Place, built as affordable housing. (Langley Advance Times files)

There are nuggets of good news in last week’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) report on rental accommodations in Metro Vancouver.

But the bad news – the vacancy rate for purpose-built rentals was a meager 0.9 per cent – tended to drown everything else out.

On the good side, though, was that a lot more rental units were created in the last year, 3,805, a record for the region, and an increase of 3.3 per cent.

There was also a big increase in the number of condos being offered as long-term rentals, with 7,850 more units joining rental stock in 2022, a 9.8 per cent jump.

And yet, none of that increased supply is enough. Between high migration into Metro Vancouver, as people head to where the jobs are, and the hangover of years of underinvestment in rental housing, there’s just not enough rental stock to go around.

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Local municipalities, including Langley City and Township, have promised to do more, and local developers have brought forward more projects in recent years.

But the big factor, in the long term, will be how the federal and provincial government respond to the ongoing crisis.

The feds have talked a big game about getting back into housing for the first time since the 1990s, when the Chretien government essentially abandoned the federal housing strategy.

We need them to come back to the table with money and a vision.

That vision needs to be broad enough to include many, many categories of renters – young single workers, seniors, single parents, working families, disabled tenants, refugees, temporary foreign workers, and new immigrants.

And to do that, we’ll need a lot of types of housing, from subsidized homes to co-ops to bachelor suites. It’s a big job, and it needs to be done right.

– M.C.