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REPORTING · 9th October 2014
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council began with two public hearings on October 6th, the second in relation to the Riverbrooke estates proposal for the Konigus, Liard and Nadina area by Kerkhoff Construction.

However, prior to the beginning of the public hearing, there was a brief presentation to Council by administration, the City Planner, Gwendolyn Sewell, about why Kitimat may need the housing which has been proposed.

She showed Council the four pronged population projection and a second chart which showed the current population in comparison to the number of households.

“This is an indication that although we have less people in our community now, then we had at the peak population, a couple of decades ago, we have almost the same number of households,” said Sewell.

The next slide showed that in 1981, there were 3900 industrial jobs in Kitimat. There were few retirees. Kitimat is currently looking at 2900 to 4600 depending on which projects go ahead. The 2900 represents scenario 3 and 4600 represents scenario 4. Scenario 4 is what happens if David Black’s Refinery Proposal goes ahead.

“I think it looks fairly solid that we might have something in near 2900 to 3100. That is 800 fewer jobs but, again, we have a very different population make up now with a larger number of retiree population,” said Sewell. “The average number of dwelling units we’ve been constructing for the last 2 decades is 4 and a half dwelling units a year. We’ve had very little growth in the number of individual households. This past year, we’ve had 70, of which nearly half are replacement for one building, an apartment building that was destroyed by fire a few years ago.”

Sewell explained the reality is during the last boom in 1981, there were an average 3.3 people per household, now there are 2.3. The households with one person are growing and the families with children are continuing to shrink. They suspect it may turn around but they do not know what the reality will be.

They expect the population to increase in 2023 which will drive the demand for housing. Government is responsible for Special Purpose Housing, and Kitimat has done two specific housing needs assessment in the last two years. In 2012, they determined that Kitimat needed 217 units of Special Purpose Housing. Earlier this year, an in house update increased it to 275 units. There is a housing action plan which is being done for Kitimat which is anticipated to come up with another number.

Special Housing Units are for people with Drug and Alcohol addiction, someone who is mentally ill, someone who requires assisted living support to live independently.

Based on BC Assessment Data, Sewell told Council the cost of a single family home has doubled. The selling prices are higher.

“Those are all indicators that there are very significant levels of demand and yes, this may have tailed off slightly in the last few months, but it’s an overall, overwhelming trend of increase in values and also decrease in vacancy,” said Sewell. “Those are all indicators that we currently don’t have enough units in our community to satisfy demand.”

She said there is enough housing for 10,000 and 10,870 people, if household size does not change. There are houses where there are a group of people sharing a house, and there are houses where one person is living in a single family dwelling.

“If you look at those numbers, that kind of translates to where we need to be by 2021, by looking at household size, and looking at what we expect our population to be,” concluded Sewell.

Councillor Mary Murphy wanted to know how the Council could address a slide where the city ends up with a bunch of empty homes. Sewell stated Kitimat has smaller household’s so the same number of people take up more houses to meet their needs. She expected they would need an increase in the number of multifamily dwellings that have outside maintenance costs and responsibilities for retirees.

Monaghan thanked her for the presentation.
Housing
Comment by Leon Dumstrey-SooS on 5th November 2014
I am not sure if this report presents the present and future housing situation;
There is no real estate report on housing sales for past 4 years. Were they for families or rental speculations? There are over hundred unit on the market now.There is upcomming Rio Tinto start up. How will this make further population change?

After almost 4 years of"industrial excitement" so far no school has been reopened-no children-! So that means not many families.

Is the Planing Department serious by making the housing projections on asumed :What may happen
and who pays the property taxes? Does this represents real positive growth in community?
More Places for Seniors
Comment by CEM on 10th October 2014
Why the old hospital ever had to be tore down when it would of been a good place for a senior's home. The view was the best in town overlooking the Douglas Channel with no trees to block the view like up the hill. But nothing can be done about the Pink Elephant now gone. What we need now is more facilities like the Delta King for some independant living and for some that need more care.
With so many divorced or separated families there is a need for more housing for that category.
Young people not wanting to live at home anymore need a place....if they have a good job. Which brings me to mind that lets not turn our backs on bringing jobs to Kitimat.....or we will be just like we were a few years ago, no place for the young people to get a job and get ahead in life.
To Few People now living in to many houses?
Comment by Larry Walker on 9th October 2014
It makes a lot of sense but the big question is what to we do about it. It is a "given" that we are all getting older and will die in time. The questions is how to we handle the transition with dignity and grace. Seniors will require assistance with all forms of housing in the near future, from home care to assisted living right thru to nursing homes. Please keep in mind that most seniors are now living close to the poverty line with little or no hope of gaining new income. That in a nut shell is the problem we must solve....and soon.