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Editorial: Cowichan house prices increasingly unaffordable

Younger people have had no choice but to purchase ordinary homes at extraordinary prices

House prices in much of British Columbia are nuts. As in, increasingly unaffordable.

That’s certainly true of Vancouver Island.

One only has to look at the 2021 Home Owner Grant threshold as determined by the province to find proof that the price of a home is, to say the least, high. Your home can be valued at up to $1.625 million and you still qualify for the basic home owner grant.

In many parts of the world one would quite rightfully ask why anyone in a home worth more than $1 million would need any kind of break on their property taxes. Surely if you’re living in such a valuable home you can afford to pay the full shot right?

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Not necessarily, not in B.C. Especially if you’ve lived in your home for a long period of time, you may have purchased the property for less than $10,000 (don’t laugh, our grandparents surely did) and the skyrocketing of real estate has now put you in a bind when it comes to taxes.

Further, due to those skyrocketing values, younger people have had no choice but to purchase ordinary homes at extraordinary prices if they wanted to live in many of our B.C. communities, particularly in areas such as the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

And if you think just telling folks to rent instead is the answer to their stretched finances you haven’t looked at the cost (or the difficulty) of renting lately.

Things are especially dire if you are a single person looking to purchase a home, with just your one income to finance it.

This is a huge hit to the cost of living. And it hasn’t been a gradual shift. Your parents and grandparents have seen the price of their homes appreciate beyond their wildest dreams. That’s really only a good thing if you find yourself in a position to sell (and move somewhere house prices are lower), not if you’re trying to maintain your lifestyle in a home you love, or are trying to buy your first.

Just look at values recently released for the Cowichan Valley.

Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake saw assessments jump a whopping 20 per cent in just one year. The Town of Lake Cowichan saw an eight per cent increase and Youbou saw a 16 per cent increase. And those numbers aren’t for waterfront. North Cowichan values rose an average seven per cent, and the City of Duncan five per cent.

The reality is that it’s not just those traditionally seen as poor who are in need of affordable housing, more and more it’s all of us.

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