Affordable Housing

Updated: April 2021


The Buckley Avenue Affordable Rental Housing project has now broken ground and construction is well underway. Sea to Sky Community Services Society (SSCS) is now managing the project, and will operate it when it opens, planned in early 2022. For more details please visit the Affordable Rental Housing Projects page.

To learn more about the project please visit the SSCS website here.

 

Housing Society / Organization

The District also is continuing with work to set up a housing society or organization, to handle all affordable housing issues and projects. Despite delays to the project as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the District has continued to work with the current non-profit affordable housing providers already in the community:

  • Sea to Sky Community Services Society
  • Squamish Senior Citizens Home Society
  • Squamish Helping Hands Society
  • How Sound Women’s Centre Society

The work has tried to determine what supports the new society can provide to the existing affordable housing societies, and what additional role it could play to provide additional affordable housing supports and programs to the community. The District anticipates that the new society can be established in 2021, so that it can become fully operational in 2022. Anticipate seeing a report before Council and a decision on the way forward prior to Council’s August recess.

Perpetually Affordable Housing Policy

March 2020 also saw District Council approve the Perpetually Affordable Housing (PAH) Policy. This new 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 definition requires that affordable rental housing provided by developers must be between 80% and 90% of median market rents, determined from local rental rate reviews. 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.

Homes provided under the PAH Policy are targeted more at low to moderate incomes, rather than requiring very low rental rates (or deep subsidy homes). This decision was made because those occupants of more affordable / deep subsidy homes often require programs and supports, options that the District does not have the staff or resources to provide. The District will continue to work with its’ non-profit partners in the community and BC Housing, who can provide the necessary supports, to provide these more affordable homes.

 


The issue of affordable housing in Squamish has emerged rapidly in recent years. Median housing prices in Squamish have risen from just over $600,000 to over $950,000 within the last three years, and the rental vacancy rate in the community has hovered at or below 1% during this same period. Long wait lists exist for all non-profit housing organizations in Squamish and potential homeowners and renters have seen their ability to secure affordable and appropriate housing diminish rapidly.

This situation is related to the increase in housing demand caused by a quick increase in the Squamish population, to the improvements to the Sea-to-Sky Highway 99 that have made it possible to commute to the Lower Mainland for employment and linked local to regional real estate values, and to growth in the tourism and hospitality sectors in the area. The changes in tourism and hospitality also contributed to the number of local residents that earn low to modest incomes, which are typical for this sector.

With over 1/3 of existing renters (over 700 households) spending more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities, there is a significant demand for affordable housing that is not met by the current supply of housing units.

The District’s work to address this emerging issue began in 2015 with the convening in May of a Housing Task Force which produced a foundational report and series of recommendations. Since then, we have engaged subject matter experts in research, analysis and further development of policy recommendations. This material has established the start of a strategic planning process, currently in development. Next steps to develop the strategy include community expert engagement and stakeholder feedback.

You can find the Affordable Housing reports and recommendations here:

Affordable Housing Strategy (Feb 2019)

Housing Needs Assessment (July 2018)

District of Squamish Affordable Housing Program Final Report (March 2018)

Housing Task Force Final Report (December 2016)

2013 Affordable Housing Framework