Forum lauds suites as affordable option

Ladysmith needs more affordable housing options and secondary suites are just the ticket — at least that was the argument made at the second session on legalizing secondary suites in town.

“We’re talking about secondary suites as low-cost housing options,” said Linda Allen, a planner with CitySpaces, the firm hired to work with the town on the issue.

B.C.’s housing guidelines state affordable housing is when a person spends 30 per cent or less of their income on a place to live.

“What’s affordable depends on the income level,” Allen explained.

“A single parent with two kids renting a one-bedroom suite, that’s very tough,” she said.

“That’s considered to be living in unaffordable housing.”

Allen said Ladysmith does need more rental options.

“We need rental stock here for so many reasons,” she said, adding rental supply has increased. “Certainly in terms of people’s living experiences change and labour mobility.”

She said one of the problems is Ladysmith has very little purpose-built rental stock.

“Investors just aren’t interested in building them in Ladysmith.”

She said secondary suites are generally less expensive than building apartment and condo buildings.

“It’s more affordable because there’s no land cost, the structural systems are in place, there’s surface parking and fewer amenities,” she said.

She said secondary suites help keep rental costs down for renters and help homeowners supplement their income.

“First time homebuyers often are looking to have additional income to help in the early years of  paying off a mortgage,” she said. “They also provide supplementary income for seniors on a fixed income.”

She said snowbirds also like the security of having someone there while out of the country.

The secondary suites consultation series began Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at Ecole Davis Road School.

The second session was Wednesday, April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Frank Jameson Community Centre Program Room.

The final forum, Secondary Suites, Different Shapes and Sizes, is April 20  from 7 to 9 p.m. at Aggie Hall.

For more information call the town’s development services department at 250-245-6405.