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Port Coquitlam mayor speaks up after boomer claims young people don't want kids or homes with yards

Mayor Brad West makes comments after a discussion about housing while his own council deals with rapid decline in housing affordability.

A Port Coquitlam dream home may just be a three-bedroom rancher for less than $1 million.

But those sorts of properties are becoming scarcer in the city as Metro Vancouver's affordability crisis spreads to the suburbs.

For the city's mayor, affordability is an increasing concern after a housing study showed fewer people can afford to live in the city.

On social media, Brad West took aim at what could be a generational divide between those who can afford to purchase a home with a yard and those who can't.

Expressing what he called "a rant," West criticized comments of a 70-year-old who reportedly told a university-sponsored Zoom meeting on housing that younger people don't want to have children or live in home with a yard.

West expressed outrage at the idea.

"Yes, there are people who will make the choice that speaker describes, but many, if not most of my friends and acquaintances in their late twenties and thirties do want kids & enough space for them to live…THEY JUST CAN’T AFFORD IT!," West wrote in his post.

He said some are working two jobs to get by.

"But in the face of stagnating wages, they’re told to take on mountains of “cheap” debt and be happy to rent 500 sqft for half their pay cheque," he wrote.

"The disconnect is real & getting worse - it’s never been important to be grounded in the reality of people’s lives."

West invited the speaker to "spend some time with me in Port Coquitlam & discover how wrong he is," noting that many assume the younger generation doesn't want the kind of homes their parents had.

His comments come as the city is reviewing a housing study that recommended the city build 5,550 homes in the next 10 years, or 550 homes a year compared to 300 now.

Figures provided for the PoCo study by Urban Matters, show a stunning loss of affordability in recent years.

Based on median household income, overall affordability has dropped from 46 per cent of homes being affordable in 2013 compared to just 18 per cent today.

In 2016, Port Coquitlam’s overall household median income was $84,096. Owner median household incomes ($95,752) are almost twice that of renter median household incomes ($49,432), according to the Urban Matters study.

Sky-rocketing rents are another problem.

Median rents were relatively stable from 2011 to 2015, before starting to rise in 2016

Between 2011 and 2020, the overall median rent for purpose built rental units in Port Coquitlam increased by 70 per cent — from $825 to $1,400 

As for that elusive single-family home with a yard? They do exist in Port Coquitlam, according a recent PoCo home for sale listing.

An 1,100 square foot home in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood is for sale at $998,000, and includes a huge back yard.

Still at that price, the three-bedroom "starter" home would be out of reach for most.