Victoria councillors should show more respect for city’s renters

Renters strengthen neighbourhoods as much as homeowners

Re: Housing Stock review finds few gains in rental (News, March 7)

I was puzzled by comments from Victoria councillors Geoff Young and Shelley Gudgeon that predominantly rental-oriented neighbourhoods are not as strong as those containing primarily home ownership. Coun. Young said “we should be encouraging rental units elsewhere.”

Could I ask where?

Cook Street Village and James Bay are among the strongest communities in Victoria and are mostly rental.

I recently stayed with a friend in the West End of Vancouver, which features Stanley Park, the seawall, Robson Street. The West End is more than 80 per cent renters. Vancouver, consistently voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, contains 53 per cent renters.

Even with low interest rates, not everyone can afford to purchase a home in Victoria or other municipalities in the Capital Region. It would be nice if folks who work in our coffee shops and clothing stores, and those who booked your appointment at the dentist’s office could even come up with a down payment, never mind making mortgage payments.

Renters do not weaken neighbourhoods. They add diversity and contribute in no small way to the economy by their work and wages, and landlords pay taxes from their rents. Perhaps this is a false paradigm we should revisit, councillors.

Russ Godfrey, legal advocate

Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre