COLUMN: I'm that renter | Squamish Chief

COLUMN: I'm that renter

That renter you don’t want living next to you, is me. 

OK, it is not literally me, but it could be me and my family. 

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As a story in The Chief recently revealed, the District of Squamish and BC Housing are working to potentially build rental housing on two possible lots downtown. 

One proposed location is on Bailey Street and the other is on Buckley Avenue. 

Anytime new development is mentioned there is a vigorous outpouring of consternation on social media.  

Squamish is a community-minded place where we care for our neighbours, but that seems to be getting lost as the current housing crisis and construction boom makes us all a wee bit grumpy and self-absorbed.

There’s anxiety about losing trees and open space, and concern over a lack of parking; there’s worry about everyone being “crammed in.” 

On one level I get it, change is hard and this town is not what it once was: the undiscovered gem where backyards were a given, not a luxury. 

Development has come fast and furious and as a community we need to decide when enough is enough. 

But here’s the thing, we need affordable rental housing here, urgently. 

Unless you have been without safe, affordable housing, it is hard to fathom the desperation of it.

My children were raised in rental housing. At one point, I was a single mom living in Burnaby. My eyes fill with tears writing this as I remember the relief and joy of living in a BC Housing complex during that otherwise difficult time. The rental alternative that I could afford was a dingy basement suite in a sketchier part of town. 

Instead, thanks to a purpose-built, subsidized rental, we lived in a bright and clean home in a safe community where my sons happily played with neighbour kids. 

Other families without the means to buy a home deserve that in Squamish.

While loss of an empty lot, or even a trail, may be sad for some, affordable rental housing is critical for those who need it. 

After years of renting in Squamish at $2,000 per month, this week we move into a condo my husband and I just purchased downtown. Our new home is next to one of the proposed rental lots. I hope it gets built and that a single mom or dad gets a shiny new unit that makes them tear up to think about, even years later. 

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