Diverse and affordable housing
Affordable housing supply is critical to maintain to ensure a diverse and equitable community, and affordability for all earning levels of the local workforce.
In late 2018 the District completed a Housing Needs Assessment to better understand the full spectrum of housing needs in Squamish. In all, the assessment identified the need for 488 new affordable rental units (or a 7% increase in the current housing stock) and an affordability need among 720 households. In 2021, the District's vacancy rate was 0.4% while 3% is considered a reasonable target vacancy rate.
0.4% 2021 vacancy rate
3% target vacancy rate
The District has been working hard to address the need for affordable and diverse housing in Squamish and in particular has been focused on increasing affordable rental stock and considering affordable ownership opportunities for local residents - known as the "missing middle".
Squamish Community Housing Society
The District has established the Squamish Community Housing Society to increase the supply, availability and access to affordable housing options across the community and entire housing spectrum. The Society is intended to serve as a single point of access for residents to access non-market and affordable housing rentals, and will work with the District of Squamish, non-profit housing agencies and the community to grow and sustain a diverse range and supply of affordable housing options.
Find out more by visiting squamish.ca
Perpetually affordable housing policy
The Perpetually Affordable Housing (PAH) Policy was approved in March 2020. This policy provides the definition of what the District wants to see as affordable housing provided by developers in market housing developments as part of any Community Amenity Contribution package (the package of new amenities provided by a developer as part of a rezoning application, principally oriented towards affordable housing or new municipal facilities). The PAH Policy targets homes that are intended for households with a range between 80% and 120% of local median income, and provides rental rates for bachelor suites through to 3 bedroom homes. The minimum sizes required are the same as those required under BC Housing standards.
Access the District's Perpetually Affordable Housing (PAH) Policy for more information.
Easing the process: staffing and policy improvements:
The District has undertaken the following in recent years to support the development of affordable housing:
- Maintaining a fast-track approval process for up to five applicants at a time for projects that deliver 100% purpose rental buildings, 100% commercial buildings, or 100% affordable housing projects;
- Provided two new staff to the Building Department in 2022, in addition to those added in 2021, to ensure that fast-tracked permits are processed and that other residential developments can be processed in a reasonable time;
- Leveraging municipal tools such as the provision of land, rezoning and creating a variety of policies in order to support affordable housing;
- Created a policy to restrict the redevelopment of rental housing to strata or other for-sale properties;
- Neighbourhood planning processes within established neighbourhoods in order to increase housing diversity and attainability.
The Spirit Creek Apartments is a partnership between BC Housing, the District of Squamish, and Sea to Sky Community Services to deliver 76 new affordable housing units. The development of a new five-storey is geared toward low to moderate income families and individuals and includes 76 units: 12 studios, 48 one-bedroom units, and 16 two-bedroom units.
The building includes space on the ground floor for a Sea to Sky Foundry Centre, offering recreational, cultural and clinical support services to youth. A public park and playground are being developed by the District of Squamish separate from and adjacent to the housing development. The skateboard park will remain on site in its current location.
To learn more visit squamish.ca