Wasting no time in getting to work, newly elected Kimberley City Councillor Sue Cairns introduced a Notice of Motion at the regular council meeting Monday, November 28, 2022.
The motion was aimed at limiting strata conversions of existing rental apartment buildings, given Kimberley’s extremely tight rental market. Cairns is concerned that if one of Kimberley’s few apartment buildings decides to switch to strata it would reduce existing rental stock even further.
The motion asked staff to develop strata conversion guidelines that would not allow such conversations if the rental vacancy rates are below five per cent.
Cairns said that lack of rental spaces impedes the economy, because businesses have trouble hiring staff if they have nowhere to live, and that any loss of supply leaves residents with no place to go.
She said Cranbrook has a policy that ties conversion to rental rates and believes Kimberley should do the same.
“It’s going to take years to address the gap, it’s important not to lose supply in the meantime,” she said.
Coun. Jason McBain, while acknowledging that Kimberley’s rental stock was low, asked if strata conversion had actually been a problem.
Coun. Sandra Roberts said that if a building converted to strata, four months notice had to be given.
Mayor Don McCormick said that the municipality already had final approval over strata conversion.
“It’s a long process to get there,” he said, adding that the motion could be a solution looking for a problem.
Given that the city controls it anyway and staff is very busy right now, McCormick said he wouldn’t support the motion. “I don’t think there is any danger of an application at this time.”
Roberts said that there were a number of new rental proposals on the horizon.
“I’m comfortable we going to be able to increase rental availability pretty soon,” she said.
McCormick said there were four proposals coming, three of them CMHC financed, with 30 per cent under market.
“That’s the definition of affordable,” he said. He said the city should see 200 to 250 more rental doors over the next couple of years.
City CAO Scott Sommerville said he had spoken to people in the planning department about the motion and he didn’t feel it would be too much work for planning for match Cranbrook’s document.
“Not having a stronger policy leaves things to chance,” Cairns said.
When the motion came to a vote, it was supported by Cairns, Steve Royer, Woodie McGuire and Kevin Dunnebacke. The motion passed.