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Letter: Metro Vancouver cities need to build homes for empty-nesters

If the city designed large communities for empty-nesters and seniors, you will see a large shift in inventory of detached houses for sale, this Port Coquitlam letter writer states.

The Editor:

I write to the readers regarding the housing shortage in Greater Vancouver. 

While I sit here in my nearly empty detached house as a divorced, semi-retired woman, I snicker at the politicians who have not taken a closer look at the percentage of empty-nesters who occupy these large detached houses with fenced back yards, and why they have not downsized so that they can free up the inventory of houses for families who actually need them.

Instead, the cities work closely with developers to approve 3,000+ sq. ft. detached houses on land the size of a paper napkin so they can tax them $5,000+ annually. 

You don't see ranchers built on concrete slabs for retirees any longer. 

The municipalities' priority is to tax the homeowner as much as they can and ranchers are not lucrative for the city.  

Otherwise, there would be gated communities in the Tri-Cities for 55+ where most retirees want to live — near nature — not in a condo with strata fees over $450 a month, screaming children or loud tenants occupying neighbouring units or rental bylaws that allow transient occupants in the buildings that compromise the safety and security of other residents. 

Many retirees of detached homes have either legal or illegal suites that supplement their pensions. 

It's what we've had to do when faced with divorces, pay for our children's university educations or just live a quality of life that we deserved after living 60+ years.

We have become accustomed to this cash flow.

With the increase in strata fees now at over $450/month based on unit entitlement for a 1,000 sq. ft. unit, and no cash flow from rental income, downsizing to a condominium is not financially lucrative.  

I do not want to watch the equity left over from the sale of my home dwindle away and experience financial insecurity in 10 years from now when my savings have all gone to strata fees and to supplement my pension because of the absence of cash flow from rental income.

The answer is very simple: Create large communities for seniors (55+) with no amenities so that the strata fees are reasonable and won't eat into our pensions or the remaining equity of the detached house we sell to downsize — preferably duplex ranchers so that we can still have our gardens and peace and quiet. 

I certainly don't want to move to a family-oriented development where I am forced to sit on my balcony 15 storeys in the sky and listen to children screaming outside in the courtyard below.

I don't want my strata fees to go toward repairs and maintenance of the entrance, gardens or walkways because the parents of children do not know how to parent or tenants who have no respect for the owners' property.

If the city designed large communities for empty-nesters and seniors (boomers are all wanting to move now but have no place to go), you will see a large shift in inventory of detached houses for sale. 

I doubt the city would ever approve of this plan because the land would not produce as much revenue in tax.  

So we just sit quietly in our detached houses that provide us passive cash flow from secondary suites, have privacy, a garden and don't have to listen or watch children on playgrounds scream and cry.   

Politicians don't see that the answer to the housing crisis is right in front of them. 

Stop building developments for families and start building them for empty-nesters. Then we will sell our detached homes. 

But take into account our modest annual pension incomes. Don't ding us for strata fees we can't afford. 

We don't need gyms, a pool or sauna. 

We don't need a games or amenities room. 

Just peace and quiet with nature around us and for you to shovel our snow and cut our grass. 

Make it happen and you will see us move.  

- M. Deeley, Port Coquitlam