Far From "Affordable" housing

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

The developer's statement "Everyday hard-working people of this city will have the opportunity to live and afford a house and raise a family within this beautiful part of Penticton", proves false. While only the 17% of high income earners in the City will find this development to be "affordable" or even "attainable", yet all tax payers of Penticton will inevitably pay for the development.


Housing

Canadian Horizons ("CH") claims that the Spiller Road development will cater to the lower end of the housing market. In an interview with the Western News, Nathan Hildebrand, Vice President of CH’s, is quoted as saying, “Everyday hard-working people of this city will have the opportunity to live and afford a house and raise a family within this beautiful part of Penticton”.


As recently as October 2nd, 2020 CH’s Nathan Hildebrand, when directly asked how many of these 300+ homes will be brought on the market for $357,442[1] there was no hesitation in his answer … “None.” Mr. Hildebrand also conceded that as the Developer he does not set the house prices. This is in fact, the job of the contractor or home builder.

Penticton’s 2019 Official Community Plan ("OCP") states that housing is considered affordable when a household spends less than 30% of its pre-taxable income on shelter. According to the 2016 Census data, the median household income in Penticton was $54,219. Compare this to the median price of a single detached home in 2015 starting at $425,000 ($525,000 for new homes).

Sendero Canyon, a similar hillside development by CH, currently has active listings (Sept 1, 2020) between $749,000 and $1.5 Million, none of which are affordable. [1] The average home price for sale comes in at $856,000. This means that as of the time of writing of this report, 83% of the population of Penticton would find the proposed Spiller Road development to be both unaffordable and unattainable.


Given its costly infrastructure, as well as the rising cost of real estate, particularly for view homes, it is conceivable that within this proposed development most homes will need to be listed at $800,000+ which would only be attainable to 17% of Penticton households.


Over and over there is a sharp contrast between the 2019 OCP vision of affordable housing and what the developer is willing or able to provide. Looking at the following policies it is evident that this development is making little to no effort to respect the wishes of our OCP: [4]


4.1.2.1 ... partner with senior governments, the non-profit housing sector and the development community to facilitate the development and operation of projects across the housing spectrum including shelters, transitional housing, supportive housing, non-market housing, and affordable rental and ownership housing for singles, families and seniors.

4.1.2.2 Maximize the housing potential of existing land assets (sites and buildings) owned by non-profits and governments ...

4.1.2.3 ... fostering, funding and delivering affordable housing ...

4.1.2.4 Support innovative models of affordable housing, such as modular housing and adaptive re-use of buildings ...

4.1.2.5 Engage in robust community consultation and work with community partners to gain support for affordable housing projects ... 4.1.2.7 ... long-term affordable housing projects.

4.1.2.8 Provide long-term security for renters in, and owners of, purpose-built rental projects ....

4.1.2.9 ...appropriate walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented neighborhoods to reduce construction costs and encourage active transportation.

Nothing that Canadian Horizons has to say comes even close to meeting the above objectives towards the building of affordable housing. Even Mr. Nathan Hildebrand of CH acknowledged this and now refers to it as “Attainable Housing”[2]. This is even more confusing.


Section 4.1.5 outlines a major goal of the OCP to ensure that as neighborhoods grow and change, a sense of place and character is maintained.

The development of the Spiller block would irrevocably change the existing character of the rural northeast sector.


Section 4.5.4 Ensures that all new neighborhood developments and redevelopments of existing large sites, including bare land stratas, are fully integrated into the surrounding community through publicly-accessible roads, sidewalks, trails and public park lands.


A full integration of the “sidewalks” would entail connecting sidewalks to those on Johnston Road and Vancouver Hill. No mention is made in the NCP for the provision of sidewalks to safely connect pedestrians to the existing infrastructure within the city or who would pay for the added infrastructure.


According to the 2019 OCP, the assumed growth projections for Penticton in 2002 were far more ambitious than have actually occurred. It was anticipated that the population would grow at over 2% per year, meaning that by 2018 Penticton would have a population of around 45,000 (2020 population is at 37,115). This high population estimate was reflected in the Future Land Use Plan from 2002, which erroneously entailed the need for more hillside growth, notably in the Northeast Sector and Campbell Mountain area. As a result, the focus of the 2019 OCP is more on intensification of existing developed land base that is currently in place, rather than developing new neighborhoods, such as the Spiller block, that are disconnected from existing infrastructure.


Current targets estimate that around 4,450 new households will be needed by 2046 or about 170 new units per year. Of these, ideally 120 would be owner occupied and 50 rented. Given the existing development initiatives that are currently underway, the Citys' targets will be achievable for at least the next 10 years without the Spiller Road development.


Has the City considered the costs to maintain the added infrastructure? Given that CH development has leap frogged outside the City, it will likely cost more to maintain the infrastructure than the taxes generated from the properties.


"A good example of development plans being inadequately analyzed, as part of its public consultation, the city of Winnipeg recently released a jaw-dropping graphic that clearly explains why increasing density is considered a priority, as this change occurs. The graphic compares the built-up area of Winnipeg in the 1970s and today. In that time, the footprint of the city increased by 96 per cent, almost doubling, while the population increased by only 37 per cent. The conclusion was that the city is currently growing three times faster in area than it is in population.

The economic repercussions are important to understand. Compared to 45 years ago, each individual Winnipegger is today responsible for the cost of maintaining almost 50 per cent more land area, and its corresponding services and infrastructure.


Adding an urban subdivision into a rural area means our tax dollars must be increased or stretched much further today than they once were. Urban sprawl is a fundamental contributor to rising taxes, declining public services and crumbling roads and infrastructure. With respect to the access and subdivisions roads proposed, when the area of snow that needs to be cleared from the roads doubles, but there is only about one-third more people to pay for it, the results are predictable."[3]

The OCP clearly states that our preference in managing residential growth is to ensure that Penticton retains its compact footprint in order to preserve natural areas, environmental habitats and agricultural lands. As well, maintaining a compact footprint will help avoid excessive infrastructural costs, hazard lands and help create conditions that support transit and active modes of transportation (4.1.1). In contrast the proposed Spiller Road development encourages urban sprawl, wreaks havoc on sensitive environmental areas and wildlife protection, increases carbon emissions, ensures our dependence on cars, increases household debt and threatens our world class wine/tourism reputation, food security and agricultural land base.

The City may well benefit from an increased tax base, but taxes are supposed to be neutral. When you take into account the risk of potential litigation on landfill and water runoff issues; loss of taxes from agri-tourism, loss of income to tax payers when tourists go elsewhere; increased costs to maintain and service an ever increasing infrastructure this balance is lost forever leaving CH as the only significant beneficiary of this development.

[1] based on 30% of Stats Canada average household income in Penticton of $54,219 with a $60,000 down payment [2] Mr. Nathan Hildebrand October 2, 2020 [3] Winnipeg Free Press 11/13/2019 - Brent Belamy [4] Excerpts from Penticton's OCP

4.1.2.1 Where the need is demonstrated, partner with senior governments, the non-profit housing sector and the development community to facilitate the development and operation of projects across the housing spectrum including shelters, transitional housing, supportive housing, non-market housing, and affordable rental and ownership housing for singles, families and seniors.

4.1.2.2 Maximize the housing potential of existing land assets (sites and buildings) owned by non-profits and governments, including the City, through strategic partnerships and knowledge sharing.

4.1.2.3 Recognize that while senior governments play the primary role in fostering, funding and delivering affordable housing, the City will provide support through technical assistance, supportive regulations, partnerships, community consultation and project facilitation.

4.1.2.4 Support innovative models of affordable housing, such as modular housing and adaptive re-use of buildings, through technical and regulatory support, using pilot projects or housing demonstration projects.

4.1.2.5 Engage in robust community consultation and work with community partners to gain support for affordable housing projects and to refine projects to reflect community input.

4.1.2.6 Continually improve the efficient processing of development applications. 4.1.2.7 Assess the potential to use Development Cost Charge reductions for secured, long-term affordable housing projects.

4.1.2.8 Provide long-term security for renters in, and owners of, purpose-built rental projects by requiring Housing Agreements and/or non-stratification covenants.

4.1.2.9 Reduce parking standards for multifamily developments, where feasible, in appropriate walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented neighborhoods to reduce construction costs and encourage active transportation.

4.1.5 outlines a major goal of the OCP to ensure that as neighborhoods grow and change, a sense of place and character is maintained.

4.5.4 Ensures that all new neighborhood developments and redevelopments of existing large sites, including bare land stratas, are fully integrated into the surrounding community through publicly-accessible roads, sidewalks, trails and public park lands.

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