The suite life in Smithers

I wish the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation had statistics on the rental vacancy rate for Smithers.

For nearby communities they have Prince George and Kitimat, but nothing in their regular reports for the Bulkley Valley.

I wish they had that information because I’d like to put down into numbers how good of an idea it is for the Town of Smithers to finally allow secondary suites in homes.

The fact that they’re not really allowed makes perfect sense now, having not-too-distantly had to find rental accommodation in town and not knowing then that this policy was in the books.

It was certainly a challenge to find a suitable place for me and my wife.

I was told when I arrived that rentals can be hard to come by, and it was true. We saw only three places, and hit a lot of voicemail messages telling us that there was no vacancy at others.

For numbers, I can only turn to our classifieds to give me an indication as to what is available right now.

And there are two apartments, and one seniors apartment for rent.

Not a whole lot.

Opening up the rental market by allowing suites in homes is a great idea, and for instance can do nothing but help retain more youth in the community. Being at the base of a ski hill, there has to be plenty of young people who’d like to spend a few years in town enjoying the amenities, and they’ll need available accommodation.

Someone passed on to me an article clipping from a publication called the Rimbey Review, which was a list of 13 ways to kill a community. (Based on the book of Doug Griffiths, called 13 Ways to Kill a Community.)

Involving youth was point three. While the tip wasn’t specifically on housing opportunities, you can bet that the availability of housing opportunities can be a factor on where a young couple will settle at the start.

I’m glad the council is taking a look at the issue now. It’s an overdue overhaul to the books.