Planning for Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery

With British Columbians being asked to head to the polls on October 24, BCREA is advocating with all parties to ensure that market housing affordability is a cornerstone of the province’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made market housing affordability inequities more apparent than ever,” says Trevor Hargreaves, VP Government Relations and Stakeholder Engagement. “Whatever the election outcome, a better future for British Columbians must include meeting British Columbia’s housing needs, controlling rising strata insurance costs and supporting a greener future by encouraging energy retrofits.”

Meeting British Columbia’s Housing Needs

Throughout the province, there is a mismatch between available housing options and consumers’ needs. Providing enough supply – and choice in types of housing – to meet demand is a key factor in managing housing affordability. As we plan for economic recovery, ensuring all British Columbians have access to affordable, appropriate housing, whether to rent or purchase, must be a priority.

Our recommendations include:

  • In urban areas, increasing the supply of affordable, market, ground-oriented, family (three-bedroom) homes along transit corridors in lower density neighbourhoods using Property Transfer Tax revenue.
  • Encouraging local governments to legalize secondary suites with minimal red tape and enable alternative rental units such as coach houses.

New construction will also put people to work, further contributing to economic recovery.

Controlling soaring strata insurance costs

At least a quarter of the BC’s population lives in stratas. The massive rise in strata insurance costs has created uncertainty and risk for property owners and renters across the province. We appreciate the steps that the provincial government has already taken to protect strata owners, but more action is needed.

Our recommendations include:

  • Encouraging the BC Financial Services Authority to foster a robust, economically viable market that attracts and retains insurance providers.
  • Developing mandatory education for strata council members.

Encouraging energy retrofits

While all levels of government are rightly focusing on supporting British Columbians through this pandemic, climate change risks remain as urgent as ever. BC’s next government can help reduce greenhouse gases while bolstering our economy by offering energy retrofit incentives. Such incentives would make important renovations more affordable, help the government meet its climate change targets while contributing to economic recovery.

Our recommendations include:

  • Committing to a long-term, widespread investment in financial incentives to help property owners voluntarily retrofit existing buildings.
  • Making financial incentives available to owners of existing commercial, purpose-built rental, multi-family strata and single-family properties.

Click here to read all our policy recommendations for the next provincial government.

BC REALTORS® support strong communities

The housing market and the Realtor profession are key contributors to the provincial economy. A 2019 study from The Canadian Real Estate Association estimates that each home sale on the Multiple Listing Service® in BC between 2016 and 2018 generated approximately $72,000 in related expenditures in the three years after the sale.

BC’s 23,000 Realtors are committed to working with government and other partners to support policies that build stronger communities by encouraging economic vitality, providing housing opportunities for all British Columbians and contributing to a sustainable climate future.

MIXED-USE PROJECTS VIABLE?

Kelowna council debates building more commercial space while existing units are empty

The overall viability of mixed-use commercial and residential developments was a hot topic of conversation around the Kelowna council table Monday afternoon.

While the discussion initially centered around a specific application on Abbott Street within the South Pandosy urban centre, Coun. Gail Given wondered whether the city is creating spaces that won’t be filled in the future.

“I agree across from the park is appropriate, but I am starting to get concerned when I watch projects come to completion, but the commercial spaces aren’t being filled,” she said.

“Where are we going into the future?”

“The current (COVID-19) situation has created some vulnerabilities for folks in the commercial end of things. But, are we really gaining here by building space that may, or may not be occupied?”

She cited the Ella building on Lawrence that opened in the spring, but has yet to fill its commercial spaces.

Planner Terry Barton did concede mixed-use is a relatively new concept to the city, adding there is risk, but benefits as well.

“It takes a certain type of developer and a certain application to pull off mixed-use,” said Barton.

“We are promoting mixed-use and would entertain proposals within urban centres.”

In answering whether the Abbott Street area could see more of these types of developments, Barton indicated the neighbourhood is “in play” for these types of proposals.

However, he did indicate those would only include properties within the urban centre boundaries.

“This is a very interesting discussion in the fact we are in the process of updating our Official Community Plan,” said Coun. Luke Stack.

“This is an area that could, and should, be debated.”

Speaking specifically to the Abbott Street proposal, which would see, if given final approval, three commercial spaces below 24 residential units, Stack said he can’t lose sight of the fact the city is getting 24 new residential units with an urban centre.

Most on council also agreed that the specific location, which is directly across from the future Pandosy Waterfront Park, is ideal for commercial enterprises.

The success of The Shores across from Gyro Beach was cited as an example of just how successful these types of projects can be.

Council voted 8-1 to send the proposal to public hearing. Only Coun. Charlie Hodge, who thought the location was all wrong, voted against it.

Housing Market Update – September 2020

Watch BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson discuss the August 2020 statistics.

Click here to visit our YouTube channel. Read the news release here.

For more information, please contact:
Brendon Ogmundson
Chief Economist
Direct: 604.742.2796
Mobile: 604.505.6793
Email: bogmundson@bcrea.bc.ca

COUNCIL RAISES WATER RATES

City council narrowly approved steep increase in agricultural water rates

Agricultural property owners who receive water from the City of Kelowna will pay substantially more to irrigate their crops in 2021.

City council narrowly approved an increase of more than 25 per cent Monday. The increase will see farmers pay $120 an acre beginning in January, up from the current $96.30 per acre.

Despite the steep increase, utility services manager Kevin Van Vliet says the price owners of agricultural property pay will still be the lowest in the valley, and competitive with the other water utilities in the city.

The increase will also narrow the gap slightly with domestic water users who continue to subsidize the water utility.

However, there were concerns among some on council who believed the increase was too steep, and suggested the increase be phased in over time.

“I would be amenable to a two-year phase in,” said Coun. Brad Sieben.

“Twenty per cent is a lot during a challenging time, and the optics of that don’t look good when we’ve just taken this (water utility) over.”

Coun. Mohini Singh agreed, saying 2020 has been a very difficult year for farmers. It’s a time, she says, when a dollar is too much for them to handle.

Van Vliet indicated, because the utility must cover costs through water rates, any downward change to the proposed increase would mean domestic rates would need to go up beyond the six per cent already agreed upon.

Coun. Gail Given told her colleagues while it may be challenging to move rates at a high percentage, when they have been artificially low for some time, the principle of fairness among all users comes into play.

“In my mind, I think this is the direction we need to take. The recommendation is not out of line,” she said.

Coun. Luke Stack acknowledged previous councils agreed to keep rates low while the utility transitioned from SEKID to the city.

“We’ve honoured that,” he says.

“I think we almost have a duty to raise these rates to this level. We are still going to be the cheapest in the valley on the agricultural rate, and if we don’t address it we actually make it challenging for BMID and GEID to manage their facilities. I think it’s the responsible thing to do.”

Council voted 5-4 to approve the increase to $120 an acre with councillors Sieben, Singh, DeHart and Hodge voting against.

7 Things to Know About Exterior House Painting

Image: ronstik / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home, or plan to sell your old one, you might be thinking about painting the exterior. It’s not only a great way to freshen things up, but can also help you make your home your own. But doing it right requires a little know-how, otherwise you risk making mistakes that could cost a lot to fix. With that in mind, here are a few important things to know.

DIY or Go Pro?

Consider the scale of the project. With the preparation, cleaning, and actual painting, it is a pretty time-consuming endeavor. Plus, it’s easy to make mistakes that can soon result in faded colors, air bubbles, and flaking.

Old homes with damaged surfaces can take even longer to complete, with hours of scraping and sanding required to create a smooth, workable surface. If this all sounds too much, it’s best to hire a pro. If not, read on for some top tips.

Know the Local Restrictions

Before you get too excited about painting your home in sapphire blue with lime green trimmings, it’s essential to check if there are any local restrictions. This is especially true in areas with homeowners associations, many of which have strict rules as to how homes can be decorated.

Choosing the Right Paint

Your first major decision is the type of paint you want to use. It’s always tempting to go for the cheapest option, but you get what you pay for. It’s worth spending a little more on a quality paint that will last longer and offer better protection.

  • Water-based paint — also known as latex paint, it’s the most common type used, and is more environmentally friendly than oil-based paint. Great for surviving tough weathering, latex paints are also fast drying and don’t have a very strong smell.
  • Oil-based paint — more durable than latex paints, they offer a longer lasting finish, but take longer to dry, and typically have a harsher smell. They’re best for trims and moldings.

Make a Plan

When it comes to painting your home, the main considerations are weather-related. Ideally, you’ll avoid rain, high winds, and extremely hot temperatures that can cause the paint to dry too fast. For oil-based paints, temperatures between 40℉ and 90℉ are ideal, while latex paint is best applied in temperatures between 50℉ and 85℉. Plan the project around the sun, and avoid painting when the sun’s glare is on the surface you’re painting, as this can dry it out too fast.

You’ll also need to plan for how much paint you’ll need. Since paint is expensive, it’s important to take time to figure this out. Consider the square footage, the materials you plan to paint, the type of paint, and the number of coats. If in doubt, you can normally ask for help at the store.

Prepare for Success

Preparation is essential for a proper paint job, so start by cleaning your walls. Blast the dust and dirt off with a pressure washer. If the previous paint is flaking in areas, scrape it off and sand it smooth. Pay attention to the wooden boards and keep an eye open for any rotting wood. This should be removed and replaced, as it’ll lead to problems later if you just paint over it.

Use caulk to fill in any gaps or dents in the trimming, and replace any cracked caulk to ensure your home remains protected. Sand any rough areas down and blast off the dust with the pressure washer. Once dry, you can apply the primer. Be sure to protect anything you don’t want to get paint on by using tape and dust sheets to cover windows, doors, and things like light fittings.

Use the Right Tools for the Job

Most professionals use a paint sprayer to quickly and evenly apply paint. However, in inexperienced hands, this tool can cause streaking, dripping, and uneven coats. For DIY projects, rollers and brushes are typically the safer option.

Paint Like a Pro

Apply a coat of primer first, as this will increase the life of your fresh coat of paint, and improve the protective qualities. Always start from the top and work your way down, starting with the main bulk of the walls, followed by the trimmings.

You can avoid leaving marks by ensuring you always paint from one wet surface to another, so work in sections. If this isn’t possible, be sure to apply a thicker layer when you have to paint from a dry surface. Finally, be sure to apply two coats. This creates a more durable protective layer that will hold its color for longer, while being easier to wash.

NARAMATA THE BOARD GAME

A love of wine-drinking and tourism has turned into a plan for a new board game featuring the Naramata Bench.

Naramata, will invite players to assume the roles of tour guides and take tourists along the bench to earn points.

“I was looking at combining what I knew as my passion, which was wine drinking, food and so forth and trying to combine that with my game design,” said Chris Dias, the creator, publisher, lead writer of the upcoming Naramata board game.

“My wife and I got into board games, I’ve been a loyal role player for a good 20, 30 years and I decided to try out board games.”

This isn’t Dias’ first time working on gameplay. He is also the founder and lead writer for Dias Ex Machina, producing Ultra Modern, which is a set of science fiction rules for Dungeons and Dragons, along with other games. He has been a professional writer since 2006 and has been publishing games since 2008.

“This is our third kickstarter and our first attempt in going into board game design,” Dias said. “Previous attempters were role playing games and they made $10,000 and $100,000 respectively.”

Dias currently holds about 200 games in his collection, which is matched by his love for wineries. He and his wife estimated they’ve visited about 130-140 wineries.

“Our first wine trip we hit 60 in eight days. I think our record in sixteen wineries in one day, which is not necessarily the healthiest thing to do but we love the experience of wine tasting.”

“But I couldn’t do a game about developing a winery because that’s been done.”

So Dias decided to make it about tourism, tasting and the wines experience itself.

“It was originally supposed to encompass the entire Okanagan, from Osoyoos all the way up to Kelowna. I decided that since I liked the name Naramata, we were just going to focus on the Naramata region.”

In the game itself, players will be assuming the role of tour guides, and be taking control of a unique tour vehicle.

Once players pick their SUV, tour bus, limo or other choice of vehicle, they’ll be picking up tourists and traveling from one side of the Naramata route to the opposite side.

“You’re moving up along the map and as you’re visiting these various wineries, you’re trying to gain these assets in order to satisfy these tourists that you have.”

Every tourist in your group will have different needs and specifications to fulfill as you travel along and gain points.

“The whole objective is to move across the Naramata region over the course of three days, hoping to satisfy these tourists and at the end of each day, trading these tourists in to score points,” Dias said.

Points, called ‘prestige’, can also be used to make upgrades to your vehicle and character, helping you score more points more easily. Whoever has the most points at the end of the three days wins the game.

Most of the components for the game are done and the group will be at some of the wineries next week recording game play.

“We’re pretty excited about it now, there’s been so much support from the people we’ve talked to and the wineries themselves,” Dias said. “Many of them jumped on board without even hearing much beyond a pitch.”

Tina Baird, the Marketing Director for the Naramata Bench Wineries Association, said she is “Very excited about it, we’re totally behind it.”

“I think it’s a really fun new way for people to engage in the Naramata bench wineries experience. It’s something that hasn’t been done before,” she added.

Dias plans to get 28 wineries on board, so each winery location you go to in the game is represented by an actual winery along the bench.

The game is focused on the region between Penticton and the town of Naramata.

“You have wineries that have a Penticton address and wineries that have a Naramata address and those are things we had to learn itself but we picked the name Naramata because when most people think of the word, they think of the bench….and that closely associates that wine region.”

“I see people playing the game, ordering Naramata wines to be drinking while they’re playing…I see wine tours coming that are all about the game,” Baird said, noting there are already many marketing ideas underway.

“I think this a very fun and new kind of souvenir to take home.”

The Kickstarter for the game will be launched sometime between the middle to end of October.

Interested participants will be able to pledge the basic amount on the kickstarter to receive the basic game. Higher contributions mean additional levels of the game, or even being painted as one of the tourists or playable characters in the game.

“Kickstarter and board games really work well together,” Dias said.

Dias is hoping to get the board game placed in stores and in the wineries by the next wine season.

More information on the project can be found on the Facebook page.

WORKING TO SAVE KEY LAND

As the $3.1 million Sickle Point property sits for sale, Kaleden residents are racing to raise funds to purchase the approximately five acre lakefront land in hopes of preserving the ecology.

A group gathered at the location Sunday, including local MP Richard Cannings.

“We’re hoping it’ll become a nature park,” said Kaleden resident Doreen Olson, who spearheads many of the fundraising events and informative gatherings. “We’re hoping to have some interpretative signs, maybe a rest spot … for people on the KVR, just to take a little deviation and take a look at the ecosystem.”

So far, the community has pledges of over $100,000, explained Olson, and although shy from the current price tag, “we feel 98 per cent positive that we are going to raise the funds.”

The area has long been a hot topic in the community. Accessed only by the KVR trail, the property – which is zoned residential – it had been purchased with the original intent to build five separate homes, but the property is now back up for sale by HM Commercial Group.

Although one portion of the land has been cleared, South Okanagan – West Kootenay MP and former biologist Richard Cannings believes the land will be able to bounce back in a matter of years if saved soon.

“This is such a valuable ecological site. Just to have a natural, flat piece of land on the lake over here … there’s nothing quite like it,” he said. “I think 80 per cent of the riparian (land) has been lost in the last 100 years (in the Okanagan). This is an opportunity we can’t let pass.”

As for building homes on the property, Cannings said he is unsure the land would be able to support one, let alone five.

“This is all floodplain,” he said, adding recent reports from the Okanagan Water Basin Board have shown the land to be underwater during flood times in the past.

Ecologist and Summerland resident Don Gayton said the area is home to the water birchrose and cat tail, two endangered plant species.

“The South Okanagan as a whole as the highest concentration of species at risk in the entire country, so little chunks like this are really important,” he said.

The Kaleden community has a website dedicated to raising awareness surrounding Sickle Point, and can be accessed here.

DUCK DEBATE CONTINUING

Town of Oliver to hear changes to animal control bylaws in order to successfully incorporate ducks

The Town of Oliver will be continuing their discussion in regards to the allowance of ducks on Monday and whether it will fit the bill.

The animal control bylaw changes may be able to solve the query, by establishing provisions for the keeping of ducks within the municipality that match the existing provisions for chickens.

Instead of just winging it, the council requested for more information in the July 27 meeting, after a homeowner asked for an allowance for his home. 

Randy Houle, the director of development services presented that information on Aug. 27, reading out a list of domestic duck characteristics, citing Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine experts and notes from an established duck bylaw from the City of Nanaimo.Their fowl bylaws have been successful in implementing provisions with little to no complaints.

At the end, the council decided to send the idea back to staff to come forward again with a proposed bylaw amendment taking into account all of the council’s discussion points.

The Animal Control Bylaw 1224.05 is being introduced with the following provisions; no chickens or ducks are permitted on properties under 500m2, three hens or ducks plus one additional hen or duck for each full 100m2, of lot area greater than 500m2 to a maximum of 10 hens or ducks combined.

Staff suggest the existing guidelines for the number of chickens to be successful, and recommends that the same be applied to ducks in an either/or situation to a maximum of 10 total.

More detailed provisions are included for the keeping of ducks and chickens within the municipality, which came from the City of Nanaimo.

As Council grapples with the decision to permit domestic ducks within the Municipality, the options remain for Council to choose to support the recommendation or duck out. Council may also decide to refer back to staff for additional information.

The Town of Oliver will hear full details of the bylaw amendments on Monday.

122-unit subsidized rental building announced

122 more affordable homes

The provincial government has announced 122 new affordable rental units in Kelowna.

The project at 2175 Benvoulin Road will house seniors and single parents with children, in partnership with the National Society of Hope.

The project is being funded by the BC Community Housing Fund, which supports mixed buildings that see 50 per cent of units set aside for incomes up to $64,000 and 30 per cent earmarked for those making up to $74,000 per year. The remainder of units go to households with very low incomes, such as those on disability.

Rental fees for the building have not been released yet.

“The Community Housing Fund is about just that – community. Through this program, we are working with our partners to build thousands of new homes that are affordable for a mix of people, from growing families to seniors on fixed incomes,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The rental units in Kelowna are among 540 announced in B.C. on Sunday, with others in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Northern B.C.

READY FOR WINTER TOURISM

“More to explore” is a 10-part collaboration between Castanet and Travel Penticton, a follow up to the popular “Tourists in your own town” series. Watch for it every Monday morning.

With winter fast approaching, tourism operators in the Penticton area are feeling chill as they prepare to open for the season.

“We’re going to be almost business as usual,” said James Shalman, the Apex Mountain Resort’s general manager.

“We’re really ready for an early season.”

Operating hours on the mountain will remain the same, said Shalman, but guests will see some small changes in the village and at the chairlift as the resort practices social-distancing guidelines.

“We are recommending face coverings in the village,” he explained. “Riding the lifts and disembarking from the lifts, face coverings will be mandatory because that’s a congested area.”

Social distancing measures will be in place, he added, with singles able to ride on each end of a four-seater chair, and lifts will ride at full capacity with groups only within their bubbles.

Guests will not need to reserve a ticket in advance, however the resort will be booking ahead for rentals and lessons.

The hockey rink and skating loops will be open and night skiing will be available.

This year, added Shalman, guests who purchase a season’s pass – available online at apexresort.com until Oct. 4 – will receive 12 free passes for six other B.C. resorts. Season pass holders from last year, added Shalman, will receive 10 per cent off this year’s pass to compensate for the mountain’s early closure due to COVID-19.

For Tricia Wilson, the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre’s general manager, preparing for this season did pose its challenges, but she and the team are ready to welcome guests.

“We’re going to have all of our trails open,” she said. “We even have a new trail coming up this winter. It’s fantastic.”

The centre has reduced its capacity to 50 guests at a time, which, said Wilson, “was our biggest hurdle to get over.”

“You can’t store your (belongings) in the lodge anymore, which changes how people use the facility quite a bit,” she said.

With the kitchen shut down and tables taken away, Wilson said the centre still plans on having a microwave and kettle for guests and spots to sit and rest.

But adapting to COVID-19 guidelines has allowed the not-for-profit centre to move forward in a way Wilson says is “huge:” the centre has moved to online sales, with thanks from company Scarlet Creations.

“It’ll be great for people to (purchase tickets) before they get there,” said Wilson, adding the centre offers free Wi-Fi for those who forget to do so.

Memberships are now on sale at a discounted rate until Oct. 31. Private lessons are still being booked through email, and thanks to a $1,500 grant from Kal-Tire, the centre has been able to add an additional coach.

And for those who prefer to cozy up next to a fire in a private cabin or yurt, Chute Lake Lodge is ready to welcome guests.

“We’re really excited,” said projects manager Stephanie Chambers.

The lodge has ramped up its amenities this year, offering guided bike tours in the Fall (at 20% off in October!) and hockey tournaments, sleigh rides and snowshoe rentals in the winter. With a hockey rink being built for this upcoming season, Chambers added guests are welcome to bring their own skates to enjoy it.

“We want to do family-friendly (activities),” said Wilson.

Social-distancing measures will be in place, with the lodge encouraging guests to spend their time outdoors enjoying one of the many activities offered.

“We really see ourselves as a nice compliment to the ski hills that are all around us, that can provide an interesting alternative,” she said.

For more information and to snag your private yurt for a mid-week night for only $100 a night, click here.