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Summerland council candidates see affordable housing as a priority

Solutions to high prices and low availability addressed at candidate forum
There are 13 councillor candidates and two mayoral candidates in the upcoming 2022 Summerland local government election. On Oct. 15, voters will choose one mayor and six councillors to serve for the next four years. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

The limited supply and high cost of housing is an area of concern for Summerland’s mayor and councillor candidates.

At a candidate forum on Sept. 20, the two mayoral candidates and 13 councillor candidates repeatedly mentioned housing as one of the top issues facing the community.

The forum, held at Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland, included several questions about housing in the community.

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Incumbent Marty Van Alphen said there is a need for a land inventory of municipally-owned property. He said additional developments would also affect the prices for renters and buyers. He suggested the municipality should be involved in creating additional housing.

“More product on the market will make things more attainable,” he said.

Blair Parker said there are challenges and obstacles to developing properties in Summerland.

“We’re known in the valley as the hardest place to develop,” he said.

Nick Redding said he would like to see incentives for people to build suites and carriage homes. He would also like to see a simplified process for developing housing units.

Doug Loepp said the shortage of housing is also affecting businesses as they are struggling to attract and retain employees. He suggested considering small homes and tiny home developments as a way to provide lower-priced housing options.

Mayoral candidate Chuck Pinnell said there was a lot of housing availability in 2008, which brought down prices at that time. He said a similar trend is beginning to happen now.

“We are seeing prices peak,” he said. “We are seeing more rentals come on and I think lower prices will follow.“

Mayoral candidate Doug Holmes, a councillor on the present council, said Summerland has a disproportionate amount of high-end, low-density housing. This affects housing affordability in the community. He suggested zoning for more multi-family housing. He also suggested having more people living in downtown Summerland.

Brad Besler said affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing the community. He suggested building multi-family homes as a way to provide housing for the community.

Incumbent Erin Trainer said housing issues are complex and there are numerous factors to consider together when seeking housing solutions.

Incumbent Richard Barkwill said there is construction taking place in Summerland at present. He said land availability is a factor in providing housing, and suggested densification as an option to consider.

Adrienne Betts said the lack of affordable housing is affecting employers in their quest to attract and retain workers.

Former councillor Janet Peake also believes the high cost of housing is a concern for the community.

Summerland mayor Toni Boot, who is seeking election as a councillor, said Summerland’s housing issues are complex but not insurmountable.

“I don’t think the housing crisis is unsolvable, but we haven’t collected all the pieces yet,” she said.

Peter Bogner said the community needs a proposal a builder, a financier and a site in order to create additional housing.

“Put these together and we will shoot for the moon,” he said.

Incumbent Doug Patan said housing supply is an issue affecting businesses in the community. He also suggested increasing housing density in the downtown core would help to reduce crime within the community.

Mark Smed said he would like to provide incentives for creating low-income housing in Summerland. He also said affordable housing is presenting a challenge for local businesses as they struggle to find and retain staff.

The election for a mayor and six municipal councillors will be held on Oct. 15.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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