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Opinion: Housing is Squamish’s Squid Game

'We should stop the Squamish Squid Game.'
It seems like Squamish’s new favourite Netflix pastime — like much of the world’s — is Squid Game.

Everywhere I go, that show seems to have become watercooler talk of the town.

So I decided to have a watch.

I can say that I found it gripping.

You can argue it’s an excessively gory B-movie, and you’d be right.

But at the end of the day, the message of the flick, while it isn’t particularly profound, is presented in a way that resonates with a lot of people, who, like the characters, find themselves in a financially precarious situation.

Basically, the premise is that a group of people in horrible amounts of debt are recruited to play a series of children’s games for money for the amusement of rich people.

If they win, they get closer to a massive payout. If they lose, well, they then lose at life as well. (They die).

In Squamish, this metaphor applies particularly well to housing.

We all play a set of musical chairs, meeting one realtor or landlord after another, but when the music stops, who has the million bucks to afford a house here?

Certainly not everyone.

And because the market prices are so high, ‘affordable’ below-market housing is still often a very expensive endeavour that many people will find challenging.

And as a result, a set number of people are eliminated.

Luckily, there are no thugs in red with pistols to off the losers of this Squamish Squid Game.

Instead, we have locals migrating to other parts of B.C.

They will then compete with the locals there, likely driving up housing prices in those areas.

Some luckier ex-Squamish folks will have been able to cash out the house they bought a generation ago for a million, and outcompete the residents of their new community.

Then, those people will do what those ex-Squamish residents did, and move to a place and thus repeat that process once again.

Some people may be of the mind that constant market housing developments may be the cure for Squamish’s Squid Game. After all, if there’s more inventory, eventually houses will go down in price, right?

Maybe? But in this case, demand doesn’t seem to be going down, because demand is not finite, as this theory assumes.

People from all over Canada are coming here. If there is a constant supply of new people trying to move here, demand isn’t going down anytime soon — it’s staying constant. Thus, high prices will remain steady.

So what can we do? For starters, all affordable units should be tied to income. Affordable units should be prioritized for locals who work at an essential service in town. And there should be more of them. Much, much more.

There are so many other things to consider, but we have to understand that more market housing is not the silver bullet that will save us when it comes to housing.

We should stop the Squamish Squid Game.