Abacus Data tells Kelowna there are no easy answers around housing affordability
Housing crisis bad for business, B.C. Chamber says in Kelowna
Affordable housing is the greatest concern among B.C.’s business community, a recent survey revealed.
In a poll by Abacus Data for the BC Chamber of Commerce, 25 per cent of respondents said the housing situation is hurting business in B.C., compared with only seven per cent who believe it helps business.
The second greatest challenge, according to the poll, is federal and provincial taxes (18 and 17 per cent, respectively), followed by access to labour (16 per cent), cost of labour (14 per cent), and electricity prices (14 per cent).
The results were revealed Tuesday at a BC Chamber event at the Delta Grand Hotel which attracted 150 businesspeople from the Okanagan.
In follow-up data, 63 per cent of respondents believe housing affordability in B.C. has become a major problem.
“Affordable housing is at the top of the list. It’s becoming so expensive to live in some parts of B.C., we’ll have trouble attracting young people and we’ll find it hard to attract companies to set up business here,” Abacus Data chairman Bruce Anderson said.
“Part of it is about economics, but part is about emotions. People know this is a complicated issue and they don’t know what the solution is. One person’s unaffordable house is another person’s prize asset that they borrowed money to own. It’s their retirement plan.”
Anderson said housing affordability was not a concern until recently. He said many people want government to do more, but don’t blame any specific sector for the rising cost of homes.
“There is no magic bullet solution. For B.C. business, it could become a pinpoint that could decelerate the growth that would otherwise happen. It has the potential not just to be a point of friction but to change the macro-economic content.”
The online survey involved 877 interviews with chamber members across B.C. The majority of respondents owned businesses with one to four employees. The results were taken after last spring’s provincial election and Anderson said there hasn’t been a huge shift in business optimism with the change in government.
Sixty per cent of respondents believe the provincial government is supportive of business, 64 per cent say the federal government is, and 73 per cent say local governments are supportive.
Only five per cent of respondents said their business is in poor or very poor shape. The outlook for the next three to five years is also positive with only four per cent expressing pessimism. A total of 29 per cent expect significant economic growth within five years, and another 52 per cent are expecting some growth before 2022.
Businesspeople identified B.C.’s economy as the most positive factor of what’s driving their business. Other positives include attractiveness of B.C. for tourists, Canada’s global image, investment in technology, quality of education, and free trade.
The event also included a “pulse check” panel discussion, moderated by Kelowna Chamber of Commerce executive director Dan Rogers.
Panelists included Deputy Minister of Labour Trevor Hughes; assistant deputy minister for local government Tara Faganello; assistant deputy minister for workforce, immigration and major investment Rob Mingay; deputy minister of education Scott Macdonald; and assistant deputy minister of advanced education Bindi Sawchuk.
“It’s becoming so expensive to live in some parts of B.C., we’ll have trouble attracting young people and we’ll find it hard to attract companies to set up business here,” Abacus Data chairman Bruce Anderson said Tuesday night at the Delta Grand hotel in Kelowna.