The latest property assessments, released last week by B.C. Assessment, should be cause for concern in Summerland.
According to the assessments, property values in Summerland rose marginally while in the rest of the South Okanagan, Similkameen and Boundary, average assessments declined slightly.
Summerland has the highest average property values in the region, with a typical residential house assessed at $419,000. The gap between the average price in Summerland and the average price in other communities is more pronounced now than in the past.
Penticton’s average assessment was $372,000, a difference of $47,000.
The average price difference is even more pronounced in Osoyoos and Oliver. A typical house in Oliver is $119,000 cheaper than a typical house in Summerland.
Even if one factors in the great quality of life Summerland can offer, the price difference is noticeable.
For those considering a move to the area for work, the price of a home will be a factor in choosing where to live.
If Summerland is to attract young families, the price of housing here must be closer to that of neighbouring communities.
Even if one chooses to rent, the rental rates tend to follow housing prices. In areas where homes are inexpensive, rental rates are low while in areas of high-priced houses, rent rates reflect the increased property values.
Over the past decade, the topic of affordable housing has come up numerous times. These discussions need to continue.
A community requires a range of housing options, at a range of prices, for its residents.
Unless Summerland can find a way to address affordable housing, the community will risk seeing a decrease in an important sector of the population.