By Steve Hubrecht

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Anyone creating new long-term rental housing in the Village of Radium Hot Springs will get a decade-long break on municipal taxes.

Radium council adopted a bylaw making the tax exemption official at a council meeting earlier this month. The move is meant to encourage more long-term rentals in the village, which like much of the rest of the Columbia Valley has been caught in a housing crunch during the last several years. The crunch is multi-pronged — housing prices have bumped up dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time long-term rental housing has become harder to find (and more expensive).

“Council has identified housing development, and incenting long-term rental housing, as a priority for the village”, said acting Radium mayor Dale Shudra in a statement. “From the (municipal election) campaign into this council’s first year, it has been and will remain a point of focus of council and village staff.”

Large-scale developments that involve creating more than five new units of long-term rental housing can get a 100 per cent municipal tax break over 10 years, so long as the property owners sign a long-term housing agreement with BC Housing. Smaller-scale developments (those that create five or fewer new units of long-term rental housing) can get a 75 per cent municipal tax break, if the owners sign a housing agreement with the Village of Radium Hot Springs.

The bylaw applies not only to brand new housing, but also to new secondary suites and accessory dwelling units. Long-term rentals that existed prior to mid-November this year are not eligible, and neither are short-term rentals.

Back in September, when the village gave second reading to the bylaw, Radium Mayor Mike Gray (who is currently away on vacation) explained to the Pioneer that “the idea here is if you are creating something that’s of value to the community, and in this case that’s long-term rental housing, we’re willing to provide a tax exemption. It’s an extra nudge to build the long-term rentals that our community really needs. We’re hoping that, combined with incentives or programs from the federal government and provincial government, it will result in more long-term rentals in Radium.”

Gray noted that municipal revitalization tax exemptions are usually offered in commercial areas “but we are applying it to a residential area, because we think it fits.”

Earlier this year, in another move meant to help bolster long-term housing in Radium, the village used grant money to buy a three-unit long-term rental building in the community, to be managed by the Columbia Valley Housing Society.

The Village of Radium is offering a good deal to those who bring long-term rental housing to the community.
(Photo by Images)