Princeton needs improved infrastructure in order to push through development. There is currently building in the works, however, such as this home under construction on Similkameen Avenue. Photo Andrea DeMeer July 2020.

Princeton needs improved infrastructure in order to push through development. There is currently building in the works, however, such as this home under construction on Similkameen Avenue. Photo Andrea DeMeer July 2020.

Princeton struggles with acute housing shortage

Less than one per cent vacancy in rental market, says report

The Town of Princeton is facing a critical housing shortage, that could cripple growth, if not addressed.

That’s according to a housing needs report, recently completed by Urbanics Consultants.

“It’s without a doubt our number one issue in terms of economic development,” said Gary Schatz, director of economic development and tourism.

Schatz said he’s had preliminary discussions with several companies interested in investing in Princeton, but the lack of available housing is keeping them away.

“I can’t go to them without a housing solution,” he said. “We are trying to do whatever we can to get housing here…We need housing, every aspect of housing.”

The report states that Princeton has less than a one per cent vacancy rate for rental housing, and suggests the lack of availability has pushed up rental rates.

Further, it says the type of housing that makes up most of Princeton – 83 per cent are single-family dwellings – doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the town’s demographic, of largely one and two person households.

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“There is a demand for housing alternatives which could also be realized through row house, duplex and apartments (less than five storeys),” the report reads.

Princeton has a notable lack of affordable housing, when compared to its population, the consultants found. Twenty per cent of owner and rental households are supported by insufficient incomes relative to the cost of the properties.

“Limited supply of rental housing ,and declining rates of home ownership, suggest there will be continued pressure on the rental housing market, and in turn, persistent affordability issues. Housing affordability is particularly acute for renters in Princeton, who are more likely to be below the affordability standard, compared to owners. The low vacancy rate suggest the rental housing shortage is an issue that touches all segments of the population, but a particular need for rental housing is noted among families and seniors,” states the report.

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“We all knew we have a housing crisis,” said CAO Lyle Thomas. “We knew it, but we didn’t have the hard facts that are coming from this report.”

The study, which cost $15,000 and was paid for by the province, will be instrumental in securing funding from higher levels of government to expand infrastructure, added Thomas.

“[The report] is good for further planning and will become the key for opening grant doors.”

Provincial and federal programs are likely to become available over the next one to two years, he said.

While Princeton has over 200 hectares of vacant land, zoned residential, much of it cannot be developed without infrastructure improvements.

Mayor Spencer Coyne agreed that better infrastructure will lay the foundation for growth.

Major upgrades to the sewer system, to increase capacity, are slated to take place this fall, provided funding comes through, he said.

“Housing is everything to the future.”

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Corner lot is “prime” location for development

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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