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City of Penticton needs housing, according to Urbanics study

Based on projections from a housing needs report, the city is growing faster than expected
This is the rendering of the Canadian Horizons development Vinterra proposed to go in Spiller Rd. The proponent has launched a new website and plans to go to city council iFeb. 16. (Canadian Horizons)

With several Penticton proposals attracting the attention of many in the community, one thing remains clear: the City of Penticton needs housing.

From the BC Housing proposal on Skaha Lake Road, to the affordable housing complex on Main Street, to the Spiller Road mega-housing project, there are multiple developments being proposed this year.

The need for housing of all kinds was laid out in a study for the City of Penticton that was completed in 2016 by Urbanics Consulting.

Urbanics updated their study at the request of the city and Canadian Horizons, the developer who is seeking approval for a controverial housing development on Spiller Road on the Naramata Bench.

The Spiller Road development, Vinterra, proposed to build a 300-plus single detached home development. The 2020 update that Urbanics completed did not break down the impact or need for supportive and adaptive housing in the community.

Based on the updated report, the city needs 16,682 dwellings for 2021, including single-detached and semi-detached homes, apartments and moveable homes. By 2026, if the city maintains the growth rate seen in previous years, that number would increase to 17,632, and then to 18,669 in 2031.

READ MORE: Penticton city council to discuss controversial Canadian Horizons proposal

That is based on the construction of properties staying in line with the average of 63 new single-detached homes built per year from 2010 to 2019.

Vinterra would provide over 300 such properties, according to the developer’s proposal for the subdivision.

The report from 2020 points to Spiller Road, as well as Upper Wiltse and Columbia Heights, as areas to accommodate the city’s future growth.

That report also noted the number of property sales in 2020 had been much higher than the 10-year average.

According to the B.C. Real Estate Association, the South Okanagan was the fastest growing market in the province, seeing a 32.7 per cent increase in the number of sales in 2020 compared to 2019.

READ MORE: South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

The need for supportive and affordable housing is also a necessary consideration when considering support or opposition of projects in the community.

Based on the 2016 report’s projection, the city would need to add an average of four residential units of family and senior housing and 11 units of emergency, supportive and transitional housing every year from 2016 on. The report noted that those numbers were assuming the need for non-market housing is not further heightened by declining affordability and rise in homelessness and substance abuse.

Burdock House, on Winnipeg Street, was completed and opened only in 2019, and provided 62 units of supportive housing. Given the five years since 2016, that more than meets the average needed growth, assuming the numbers of those who are homeless and at-risk of being homeless did not grow.

READ MORE: Province announces Skaha supportive housing project

The Skaha Lake Road location would provide 54 units, per the press release from the province from Dec. 15, 2020.

The affordable housing complex by M’akola Housing on Main Street would provide, per their most recent public proposal, 28 units for seniors and families.

In 2019, the Backstreet Apartments opened and added 40 new affordable homes, with three for families.

The city’s next housing needs assessment will be conducted as part of the 2021 census, which will provide an update to the needs and supply of housing in the community.

The 2016 report is available from the website.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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