Metchosin council has no plan to encourage growth in their rural community, but learning more about housing needs in the district and the people living there proved illuminating.
The Housing Needs Report for Metchosin, discussed during the Feb. 1 council meeting, is one of 11 similar reports commissioned by the Capital Regional District. The goal was to identify existing and projected gaps in housing supply and help local governments and the province plan and respond to those needs.
The report illustrated some changes to Metchosin’s makeup. Comparisons using census figures from 2006 and 2016 showed the median age of Metchosin residents increased from 45.5 to 51.5. Further reflecting that change, the percentage of residents age 65-over was 22 per cent, up from 12 per cent in 2006.
The aging population statistics were flagged by Coun. Marie-Tèrèse Little, who said the district may wish to start considering other housing options for seniors, “so they can remain in our community.”
Another upward trend was in the proportion of renter households in the district, which jumped from 245 (14 per cent) to 395 (22 per cent) between 2006 and 2016.
There are no purpose-built rental buildings in the district indicating renters are generally in homes or secondary suites, a market for which there is little cost data available, the study stated.
Coun. Sharie Epp pointed out that the broader rental data used from the entire West Shore may not be relevant for Metchosin’s purposes.
While the number of households considered to be in core housing need – residents are living in inadequate, unsuitable and/or unaffordable housing – tripled from three per cent to nine, Metchosin’s rate was still lower than the CRD, B.C. and national rates.
The average selling price in 2019 of $1.017 million for a single-family home is considered unaffordable for median income-earning households looking to enter the home ownership market. A home of that price would require a household income of $188,500 to be considered affordable, that is, less than 30 per cent of before-tax income spent on housing.
Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila appreciated the fact the information was compiled at no cost to the district – the study was paid for through a Union of B.C. Municipalities grant – and called the study useful for planning purposes.
“Obviously we don’t want to encourage growth, but having a document like this allows us to have the background information for making informed decisions about what we want, going forward,” she said.
The full report is available on the District of Metchosin website.