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Sechelt tax increase for housing fund?

Sechelt tax increase for housing fund?

Councillor Tom Lamb wants Sechelt to explore how it could raise more funds for the community’s affordable housing efforts through an additional property tax.  The Feb. 12 committee of the whole meeting asked staff to bring information on this subject forward for consideration during upcoming committee meetings discussing the 2020 budget.

Lamb stated he was interested in seeing if the municipality could collect funds via taxation to add to the community amenity contributions that are made by developers to the affordable housing reserve. With an assessment-based tax applied to properties in all classifications, he said that the district could have a regular and predictable influx of money into the reserve.   He stated that a second source of revenue would build the reserve level faster than the current situation of total reliance on developer contributions.  

The current balance in the district’s affordable housing reserve is about $63,000. Based on developer contributions that are anticipated in 2020, the fund is not predicted to grow significantly this year.  

In discussion of Lamb’s idea, Mayor Darnelda Siegers said that she was in favour of investigating the options.  She also would like to see funds from any enhanced affordable housing reserve used to buy land.  With more municipally-owned property available, she feels the community would be in a better position to attract affordable housing projects or contributions from provincial and federal programs as well as locally-based initiatives like those being proposed by the Sunshine Coast Workforce Housing group.  She backed up this logic by citing a recent example where BC Housing offered to build a project featuring three-bedroom units for the rental market in Sechelt.  The district could not accept the offer, as it did not own land to locate the project on.   

“We are looking to have economic development in our community.  We want businesses to come here but their employees have difficulty finding places to live,” said Siegers.    

Earlier in the meeting, the committee received an update on the 2019 tourism season from Paul Kamon, executive director of Sunshine Coast Tourism.  He noted that one of the primary challenges facing the area’s tourism operators is difficulty securing staff.  He attributed part of this problem to the Coast’s limited rental housing market.  

Connie Jordison

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