Businesses in and around Penticton, B.C., are disappointed by their local city council's rejection of a plan to build 130 units of rental housing, saying the decision will complicate efforts to hire and retain staff.
Jonathan McGraw, president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, says a lack of rental housing for staff has been an ongoing challenge for businesses in the area.
"We're hearing that they're having a difficult time with the hiring and retention of employees," McGraw said Tuesday to Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South. "A number of them do express the concerns that they're facing with their staff being able to find housing, not just affordable housing but housing in general."
At a meeting last week, Penticton city council voted 4-3 to reject a rezoning application submitted by Broadstreet Properties and Seymour Pacific Developments that would have allowed residential buildings at 435 Green Avenue West.
The companies' proposal, presented in June, was to build 130 housing units in a four-storey development, with 166 parking spaces. It was the companies' second proposal, after their first — for a six-storey development with 151 units — was rejected by council in May.
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said he and other residents think the rental project is too big for the neighbourhood.
"We're doing exactly what the people in the neighbourhoods are wanting when it comes to development," he said Wednesday on Daybreak South. "It's going to destroy the lifestyle of the people that live there at the moment."
Penticton's official community plan says in order to meet the housing demand driven by population growth, the city aims to build 150 additional housing units per year — 40 of which will be rental — by 2046. The plan also says the vacancy rate in the city is one to two per cent.
The mayor said one of his key concerns with the project was the parking situation.
"I found out that … they charge for parking," he said at last week's council meeting. "[That] will prevent a lot of the people [from] getting a parking spot in their own building. But they'll be parking out on the street, and to me, that's a big no."
McGraw says he and the chamber's executive director had a meeting with the mayor several months ago to reflect businesses' concerns about the city's housing shortage.
Tap the link below to hear John Vassilaki's interview on Daybreak South: