Name your price? The overlooked costs of growth

File Photo
File Photo

Coming home after a weekend away to a note taped to your door isn’t really a good feeling. As we pulled up, I wondered what we could have possibly done to cheese off our neighbours to the point that they needed to officially reprimand us.

But to my surprise, the note wasn’t from a neighbour. It was someone who wanted our neighbours as their own:

“If you’re interested in selling, we are a family eager to buy. Please contact us. Name your price!”

After a brief and slightly entertaining phone conversation, I gleaned we both had very different interpretations of the phrase, “name your price”.

Nonetheless, the efforts from the family clearly illustrated something I’d been hearing for a while. The market has rapidly changed in Sun Peaks and people are getting desperate to find a place to live, either to buy or to rent. While this is great news for current property owners, it can also be a red flag for future social issues.

This year, it seems we have less SPIN classifieds for available long term rental units (even over the summer when renters could generally take their pick) and more for people looking for upcoming winter accommodation before the snow had even melted off Mt. Tod’s peak.

As recently brought up at the Tourism Industry Association of BC AGM in Sun Peaks, the popularity of short term rental services like Airbnb and VRBO are further encroaching on potential staff housing around the province.

If we can’t offer people suitable places to live, how can we expect them to take jobs in Sun Peaks?

Affordable housing and rental availability can be huge problems. One only has to look to the recent events in Vancouver and the taxation steps their municipality is looking at. Or Google housing issues in Aspen, Vail, or Jackson Hole and you can get a sense of where Sun Peaks could one day be headed.

Look to our friends in Whistler and you’ll see efforts spurred by their housing crisis, namely the Whistler Housing Authority, which first focused on increasing rental availability and then on affordable housing through restriction covenants.

There are so many positives happening in our community right now — a new townhome development, a record-breaking occupancy year, nearing broken ground on the much-needed health centre and a school bursting with kids when others are being closed. It’s easy to get swept up and not realize the negative side effects to growth until they’re already upon us. Let’s learn from those who have already navigated through it and avoid the headaches.

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