Our view: Langley needs to get moving on rental housing

Local government is vital in ensuring there is rental housing constructed.

There’s no question that the economy is going pretty well these days in British Columbia.

Wages are finally rising for many workers, notices for workers are appearing on shops all over town, and unemployment is low.

That growth means that people are flocking to the Lower Mainland, including the Langleys.

Unfortunately, some of them are going to wind up living in their cars if our local and provincial governments don’t do something about rental housing.

A recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation report found rapidly rising costs to rent and shrinking supply of rental housing.

There’s a vacancy rate of just 0.9 per cent in Metro Vancouver. The situation is marginally better in the Langleys, where Langley City in particular has a larger than average stock of rental housing.

But a vacancy rate of 0.7 per cent for one-bedroom apartments and 1.5 for all types remains abysmally low.

Meanwhile, the average rental price in the Langleys was at $1,170 for an apartment, up from $1,002 just one year ago. That’s a steep increase.

In the short term, we won’t be able to build our way out of this situation. There’s no way to add enough rental housing stock to make a dent by next year.

But in the long term, the councils of Langley City and Township should take a hard look at how we plan our communities.

Rental housing is where seniors, students, and young people working their first jobs often live. It’s a vital resource, and we should make sure there’s a sufficient supply.

– M.C.

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