Earlier this month, Prince Rupert city council heard about the Northwest Readiness Project, which the province is undertaking to prepare communities in the region for the boom in population expected to come with LNG development and port-related activity.
While a great idea on paper, it is something that is likely way too late and even more too little.
The reality is that communities in the Northwest are already behind the 8-ball and beginning to see the impact a lack of planning and preparation can have. While Prince Rupert isn’t experiencing the pinch to the same degree as Kitimat and Terrace, mayor and council would be extremely wise to watch what is happening to our neighbouring communities and take notes about what can be done to prevent the same from happening when the wave of workers and investors does come.
Both Terrace and Kitimat are dealing with the phenomenon of “renoviction”, which is landlords (legally) evicting tenants to undertake renovations. When the renovations are done, the tenants are offered their old apartments/suites back at sometimes double or triple the monthly cost. Most can’t afford it and find themselves without a place to call home.
While the landlords are well within their rights to do it, the result is a social issue that impacts the community as a whole. It is an issue that is only further complicated with the inflated housing prices that come with a gain in economic activity.
Kitimat and Terrace are just now starting to plan for affordable housing and how they can assist those who are renovicted. It’s something that may not yet be a prevalent issue in Prince Rupert, but with the amount of money and investors turning their eyes to the community, it’s more so a matter of when it becomes a problem than if it becomes one.
Council needs to be proactive. You don’t need to wait for a population projection to begin planning for a healthy community future.