Government reports show what's at stake in the Fraser Valley's housing crisis
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Good Morning!
My daughter woke up from her nap on the weekend, looked at me with one sleepy eye, and said: "Cow?" So off we went in search of cows. Luckily, thanks to the 20-odd readers who sent in their top cow-spotting locations last week, we had our pick of places to choose from. To everyone who sent an email: thank you! Your suggestions, maps, photos, and stories made my inbox a happy placeand my toddler a happy girl. —Grace Kennedy, reporter
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Assessments across the region show the depth of the housing crisis, which for some includes choosing between groceries or a home. 📸  Left: Imagenet/Shutterstock; Right: Adam Melnyk/Shutterstock
Hard choices in a housing crisis

The title is boring: housing needs assessment. It evokes an image of a simple government report, compiled by one jurisdiction at the behest of another. And that is exactly what each is. But buried within these provincial government-mandated reports are candid observations about the housing crisis that has left thousands of people without homes, or in substandard housing.

Nearly all Fraser Valley communities have completed their reports. Each involved feedback from stakeholders and individuals about the local housing situation. Here is some of what was reported:

Mission: "We are forcing our elderly, low-income families, young families starting out, young singles, and low-income singles to choose between eating nutritious meals or having a place to sleep that isn’t on the street."

Langley stakeholder: "A starter 1-bedroom in the city is $1,000 or more. If people are on income assistance, they have to use their full income assistance cheque plus their child benefit to pay for that bedroom. This does not leave enough money for other things like food, transportation, etc.

"There is now a growing population of the working poor’ as well. They are not our clients, but they will never afford a house or a condo. There needs to be housing for everyone. This is facing the younger generation especially. We want a diverse community with opportunities for all."

Chilliwack: "Neighbouring First Nations are facing housing shortages and there is a relationship between housing challenges in municipalities and First Nations communities. As communities like Chilliwack have gotten more expensive, some First Nations communities have seen increased demand from their members looking for more affordable housing options.

"Stakeholders report that rapidly rising housing costs in Metro Vancouver communities have pushed demand for homeownership and rental options towards the Fraser Valley. This has led to rising land values and greater competition for available units."

Abbotsford: "An interesting observation that arose during the dialogues was the frustration about a lack of creativity, beauty, and pride in affordable housing options. It was suggested that it would be nice to see beautification of low-income spaces to create pride in ownership and help de-stigmatize these neighbourhoods for surrounding communities and residents.

"The gap between access to transportation and low-income housing also affected accessibility to programs, services, and social supports. Low wages and low rates for social assistance, coupled with a high cost of living were also considered as contributors to the homelessness cycle."

FVRD electoral areas: "It is important to note recent price increases in Chilliwack and other urban centres in the FVRD will likely have knock-on effects for lower-income households. With very limited rental vacancies, residents are dropping out of the bottom of the housing ladder’ and experiencing evictions with renovations and demolitions."

To read the housing needs assessments from each community, click here.

By Tyler Olsen

The Floor Is Yours: How has the cost of housing impacted your family?
Need to Know
🏫 A 2016 tour of St. Mary's Residential School in Mission revealed the horrendous experience of Indigenous students in the system [CBC]

🔥 A fire in a Chilliwack garage damaged an ATV Sunday morning, although the occupants were able to get out safely [Chilliwack Progress]

🍺 Langley City is looking at allowing people to drink in parks [Langley Advance Times]

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This dike in the Chilliwack River Valley is in poor condition, the FVRD says. 📸 Fraser Valley Regional District
The Agenda
The families in the Fraser Valley will have more options for child care, thanks to the eventual opening or expansion of 7 daycares between Langley and Hope. In Langley, 175 spaces will be created in 3 locations; all are east of 200th Street and 2 are located at local elementary schools. Abbotsford will get 99 new spots at an existing commercial daycare for children not yet in kindergarten. In Chilliwack, a new facility will have 78 child care spots and offer extended hours to support essential workers at Chilliwack General Hospital. Seabird Island will be opening the Ewolem Seabird Child and Youth Center with 32 spaces as part of a multi-phase project for the community. And Little Sturgeon Child Care in the Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation will create 32 child-care spaces while supporting community members wanting to pursue their early childhood education certificate.

An "orphaned dike" in a small neighbourhood in the Chilliwack River Valley is in poor condition according to a review from the Fraser Valley Regional District. Although the dike is within the FVRD, it and 5 others like it are not the responsibility of the regional district. The 490-metre-long Osborne Road Dike protects a number of homes and was built in 1990 in response to flooding concerns. The dike, and the potential that it could be breached, poses a "low" risk for mortality, critical infrastructure, and the environment, and a "medium" risk for impacting residents, the economy, and culture, according to the review. The assessment of orphaned dikes was completed as part of a province-wide look at such orphaned dikes.
COVID latest
While the province forges on with its vaccination schedule, some people who got their first shot before the provincial registration site went live are missing the invitation to get their second vaccine. Dr. Bonnie Henry did say letters will be mailed out to people who received their first vaccine but aren’t in the registration system, and those letters will contain information on how to book a second shot. However, those wanting to speed up the process can re-register on the Get Vaccinated website or call 1-833-838-2323. [BCCDC COVID data]

Fraser Health
  • New cases: 394 Friday-Monday / 147 average (down 39% from last week)
  • No active outbreaks at hospitals / 2 active outbreaks in long-term care
  • School exposures: Abbotsford: 12 / Chilliwack: 6 / Langley: 8 / Mission: 2 / Fraser Cascade: 0
  • Workplace closures (May 28): 2
  • New cases: 708 Friday-Monday /  277 average (down 28% from last week)
  • 249 hospitalizations (down 14% from last week)
  • 11 new deaths / 1,703 total
Around Town
📞 A 24/7 crisis line available for residential school survivors and their families who need counselling support: 1-866-925-4419. Other resources are available online.

🟧 A gathering is being held at 6pm tonight in Abbotsford's Jubilee Park to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. All are welcome to attend.
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