EDITORIAL: Back to the Squamish future

It is easy to feel anxious about the current housing situation in Squamish. After all, there’s a lot to be concerned about. The current benchmark price for a townhome is $851,300, according to the latest stats from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. The benchmark for a single-detached home is estimated at over $1 million. Yikes.

The rental market is super tight, with bachelor pads going for about $1,200 and rooms — as in just a bedroom — going for $600 a month and up.

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Most in town agree that we desperately need less pricey houses for sale and rent, but there’s plenty of disagreement about how we best move forward.

Thus, it is somehow comforting to know that our current housing crisis, though more extreme perhaps than in times past, is not new.

A 1974 provincial government report about Squamish recognizes, “the inability of many prospective home buyers to purchase housing due to rising housing prices, limited mortgage funds and high down payment requirements.”

The report notes problems that could be cut and pasted onto a report written for our current council.

The proposed solutions are familiar too.

The 1974 report recommended less focus on single-family homes in favour of more townhomes, apartments and mobile home lots. Sounds a lot like the current push for a variety of housing types.

The report also recommended the District use its land for affordable housing. Similarly, our current council is proposing 80 units of housing on Buckley Avenue.

Interestingly, however, the 70s report shows a pro-active desire on the part of the provincial government to impact change in Squamish. Since that time, municipalities and organizations seem to have increasingly had to come up with the analysis and solutions on their own.

Also different, the report spends considerable time suggesting what the Crown corporation, BC Rail, could do to help its employees in terms of transportation and housing, going so far as to say that the company should supply a shuttle between Squamish and Vancouver for its workers. Hard to imagine that expectation of employers, be they Crown or otherwise, in 2018. (Shockingly, the report also includes a breakdown of the family situation of  Squamish employees based on their BC Rail applications — information one cannot conceive of employers asking for, nevermind releasing publicly today).

Some other old-fashioned moments in the report include a discussion of the possibility some “wives could work to contribute to the ability to purchase a home.”

Be still our beating hearts, wives might work? Crazy talk!

But overall, the issues and concerns of the 1970s sound eerily familiar.

What will future generations look back and say of our current situation? Will they still be dealing with the same issues or will our housing dilemmas seem quaint or as unimaginable as the idea that most women didn’t work?

Only time will tell.

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@ Copyright Squamish Chief


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