Remember rent controls and short-term rentals
How ironic that the B.C. government is offering me a $40,000 loan, forgivable over five years, to build a secondary suite, when for decades most municipalities had — some still have — bylaws banning them! Will this potential $120 million expense result in 3,000 more rental homes?
Not likely, for two reasons that seem to have been ignored by the bureaucrats and politicians: rent controls and short-term rentals.
However, I’ll consider the government’s loan offer.
In Victoria, one of the loan conditions requires me to rent my two-bedroom secondary suite for no more than $1,894 a month, an initial rent control set by B.C. Housing, a government bureaucracy, hardly reflective of today’s market.
If I currently own a rental property, the government’s rent controls limit 2024 rent increases to 3.5 per cent, following an average of two per cent per year over the past five years.
That is hardly an economically viable prospect, given my property taxes increased almost eight per cent in 2023, my insurance premium went up almost 25 per cent, and trades and services companies are charging about 10 per cent more than last year.
Yes, Virginia, it does cost money to provide rental housing!
I can build a secondary suite, market it like a hotel room for, say, $165 a night. If I have customers for 20 nights a month, that’s about $40,000 gross revenue a year, plus I don’t run the risk of trying for months to get rid of tenants who decide to stop paying rent.
Thanks for the offer, Premier David Eby. I think I’ll pass.
The writer is a past CEO of the Rental Owners and Managers Society of B.C. and currently operates a company serving and educating rental housing providers.
Talk may be cheap, but it can be pleasant
Being retired and living near Sidney, we often ride our bikes into Sidney. I usually wait outside if my spouse shops.
If another retired person comes by, I will say hello and if we talk, that is good. Many retired people are lonely and if someone will take time to talk to them, a smile is sure to show.
I usually start with “Where did you grow up” as most people come from away. Then, “How were your school years, what work kept you busy?”
Many smiles here and comments such as we have been dating for 58 years, I might ask her to marry me soon. Again, I leave them with a smile.
There are many experiences out there that we have not heard of yet. The smiles make my day, too.
Behind Door No. 2, the nuclear option
Re: “Where will we find all that electricity?” letter, Sept. 20.
Apparently, if need another 2,250 megawatts seven years down the road in order to electrify our lives, as some folks claim, we should be worried about where it comes from.
Do we build more damn dams and burn more climate-disrupting fossil fuel?
Yes, if those were the only two options, we should be very worried. But there are other options. The most obvious is reducing our consumption of electrical energy. But, since there’s no indication the world’s energy hogs, 0.05 per cent of which live in Canada, will willingly agree, the next option is nuclear.
Rather than building more Site C dams and burning more fossil fuel, let’s strategically place a few mini-nuke generators to take up future electricity demands that conservation and alternatives can’t supply.
Common sense would dictate where the nukes would be built; start with high-demand communities.
And where would they be? A quick look for postal codes consuming the greatest amount of electricity per acre would be a great place to start.
There is a third option; reduce the number of electricity consumers, but given that global population numbers are still increasing, it looks like we’ll have to settle for option two.
Everything electrical? That will not be easy
Re: “Where will we find all the electricity?” letter, Sept. 20.
The writer has most emphatically detailed the folly of electrifying everything that requires energy. I have been trying to get some attention to this situation but so far few people want to listen.
Every day, I read stories about how difficult ordinary daily routines and emergencies become with an electric vehicle due to range limits.
Yes heat pumps replacing oil furnaces makes sense, but where are the provincial government and B.C. Hydro studies that might be used to plan such a strategy?
Yes, we are only a small part of the world’s population so you can be very sure that electrical power generation in other countries is via coal or oil in order to fill the power void.
Current climate change mitigation action can be compared to pouring more water into a listing ship in the hope that the ship might right itself.
Nuclear moratorium was a bad idea
Re: “If we want energy for all we need to stop wasting it,” column, Sept. 17.
There are many reasons for the energy deficit we currently confront.
One is the moratorium on nuclear power that was forced upon us in the 1970s and 1980s, largely due to the efforts of the Trevor Hancocks of the day.
Saanich council should listen to experts
Re: “Saanich, get rid of the planning staff,” letter, Sept. 20.
Obviously, a facetious comment, but a point is made. I was horrified by the quote from Saanich Coun. Colin Plant about not always following policy (or listening to the qualified staff).
Policies are made to try to be as fair as possible to all. If you ignore policy then you are operating on the whim of the loudest speaker (developer? small interest groups? or?).
Saanich should follow policy, listen to the experts, and follow the wishes of the local area plans.
The problem is the dogs that are not controlled
Working dogs, for example, border collies that herd sheep, police dogs, and many breeds of guide dogs are trained to be totally obedient. Many domestic pets, on the other hand, when unleashed, are sadly allowed to race around uncontrolled by their doting owners. Yes, they’re just being friendly.
The leash on a dog reduces human fear
I am fond of dogs, though not currently an owner. The point I see as missing is safety. Anyone who has ever been chased, bitten or challenged by a dog doesn’t forget the experience, particularly children. We just don’t know if or when that could happen again and that puts us on guard. You may know and trust your pet, but I don’t.
Seeing a dog on a leash reduces the fear. To me that’s what matters most.
Your dog needs a daily hour of exercise
People who have dogs know most of them need more than a slow walk on a leash every day. It’s recommended that active dogs have one hour of exercise a day.
They need to sniff, play, greet other dogs and people and run around a bit. Having a dog also gets humans outside to exercise and socialize, for free or the cost of parking.
Considering the high cost of eating in restaurants, gym memberships, sports, etc., hiking or walking can be done by most people.
Loan forgiveness would ease health-care issues
Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson has a powerful tool at her disposal to make careers in nursing and health care more attractive.
It’s called the B.C. Student Loan Forgiveness program. Nurses, doctors, and other health-care workers can have their entire student loan forgiven if they work in a public clinical setting for five years.
The hitch is that it has to be in an approved rural locale, so Victoria, which desperately needs doctors and nurses, does not qualify.
Robinson could offer student loan forgiveness to all financially needy students in health care as long as they work five years in B.C. The current student loan assessment process determines financial need.
When I was a student aid adviser at the B.C. Institute of Technology, I learned that half our nursing students were carrying well above average student loan debt before they reached graduation after four years.
Lifting that debt burden would go a long way to making a career in health care more attractive. Debt is a huge disincentive and barrier to a career in health care.
Expanding student loan forgiveness would help recruit and retain health care staff, increase the staffing we are critically lacking, and improve the stressful working conditions in our hospitals, care homes, and clinics.
If Robinson doesn’t make bold changes to student aid, the health-care staffing issue can only get worse as our population continues to age.
Salt Spring Island
A crosswalk should be just a crosswalk
I have a five-decade association with the University of Victoria as a student, graduate, employee, instructor and alumnus. I am empurpled by the cowardly and lacklustre non-performance of the senior administration with regard to the rainbow crosswalk issue.
A huge abyss of executive leadership — perhaps at all levels — is apparent. Howard Petch must be fuming in his grave.
As Henry Kissinger noted, “The reason that university politics is so vicious is because the stakes are so small.” Indeed. A crosswalk is just a crosswalk.
Make it serve the purpose for which is was designed and get on with it. Absolutely no need to be profligate with public monies.
Richard A. Rennie, CD, BComm, MPA, LLB, Victoria
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