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VIDEO: A wave of apartment building rebuilds threatens to oust scores of renters

Kelowna City Manager Doug Gilchrist suggests it's inevitable.

The re-development of scores of ageing apartment buildings is expected to impact people who depend on the lower rents.

"That's the downside as we get ageing infrastructure," said Gilchrist.

"There are many buildings in Kelowna that were built in the '60s and '70s that are coming to the end of their functional life."

Redeveloping adds to the housing supply, which is good. But at a cost to people enjoying lower rents.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"Higher density certainly allows for greater density and more available housing for the masses, but many of those buildings will come to the end of their life," said Gilchrist.

It's the 'gentrification' issue, which was raised by City Councillor Rick Webber last week.

Webber spoke with KelownaNow outside an ageing apartment building that will be knocked down for something new.

"We're seeing dozens of people being evicted," said Webber. "They'll never have a hope of living in one of those new buildings."

Gilchrist said the ageing apartment infrastructure will need either major renovations or rebuilding.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"Those obviously come with lower rents and then people getting displaced when they get rebuilt."

He said the city doesn't currently have a specific policy to help look after those displaced residents.

There is a re-development policy in place for manufactured home park redevelopment in Kelowna, which raises the question whether renters in apartments might deserve similar protection.

"You may say, if you displace someone you have to relocate or compensate them," said Gilchrist.

"But we have to be mindful, if we're going down that policy path of the implications of putting an added burden or cost on the development."

He said the problem is complex, and city staff will be looking for new, innovative ideas to see us through.

"I'd like to think that in Kelowna we're on the forefront of some of those new ideas," he said.

Members of council are waiting to hear what those ideas might be.

Gilchrist's comments were made during a wide-rangng interview recorded at KelownaNow May 8.



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