Photo credits: City of Charlottetown
By John Ployer
City Councillor Greg Rivard says that the city is working on housing solutions that include regulations of short-term rentals.
In a conversation with the Cadre, Rivard said that housing is a key concern for the city, but stopped short of calling the situation a crisis. Rivard calls the housing situation in the city a concern.
“It absolutely is a concern anytime you have a 0.2% vacancy rate.”
Rivard, who chairs the city’s planning committee, says he is glad to see the province is “stepping up to the plate” when it comes to creating affordable housing. The province is building a number of affordable housing units this year.
“One of the only solutions I believe we have is to continue to build at a rapid pace to meet the demand,” he said.
Rivard said 2019 has been a record for new housing permits, and believes 2020 will set another record, but makes it clear that the city is not in the business of creating affordable housing itself.
“Our mandate isn’t to build affordable housing, that’s why the city currently doesn’t have any housing stock itself,” he said.
“We did put policy in place last year to help with the affordable housing concern”
Among policies Rivard said the city enacted include waiving permit fees for those looking to construct affordable housing and a tax free grant to build affordable units.
“We as a city recognize that this is very important and we’re stepping in the best way we believe we can.”
The city currently has no definition of affordable housing, but Rivard says he would like to see a wide variety of housing options at different prices.
“Students have a different definition of affordable housing than say a family.”
When discussion how the city is consulting with students regarding housing issues Rivard cited the advisory council that submitted a report to City Council in 2018. He did not specify if any consultation has gone on more recently.
He says that organizations like the Student Union are more than welcome to meet with the City to discuss housing.
Rivard says that something is going to happen regarding the regulation of short-term rentals like Airbnb, but says that he doesn’t know exactly what it will look like as of yet.
While important, Rivard fears people will be disappointed if they think regulating short-term rentals will solve the housing shortage.
As a city councillor, Rivard says that himself and the City Council will continue to be looking for housing solutions in the near future, and encourages residents to provide input to them.
“Housing for anybody is a human right. We should all have the ability to have a roof over our heads that we can afford. The question is how do we get there. As an elected official its my responsibility to find workable solutions.”