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VIDEO: Redevelopment push means wrecking ball for much of Kelowna's existing affordable housing

A key part of the plan to address the housing affordability crisis is to increase the housing supply.

It's sound, simple economics.

But it comes with a very unfortunate downside for a growing number of people.

The infill housing which dominates new builds in Kelowna involves tearing down ageing, low-rent homes with a greater supply of brand-new ones which are usually much less affordable.

Up to now, it's been older, single-family homes getting torn down.

Because apartments that replace the houses mean such a big increase in the housing supply, the loss of those few homes might seem palatable.

But now developers are turning to ageing apartment blocks.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Existing affordable housing units are starting to be lost by the dozen.

There's a word for it: 'gentrification'.

Kelowna City Councillor Rick Webber fears it's the beginning of a bad trend.

"We're seeing dozens of people being evicted," said Webber.

He spoke to us in front of a project planned for 1181 Bernard Ave.

"They'll never have a hope of living in one of those new buildings."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

City staff have been asked to report back with options on the issue, and Webber hopes they can come up with something good.

"There must be a policy in which the people being kicked out of their homes are getting a better deal," said Webber, "being given better options of where they can go next."

When the subject came up at the Monday council meeting city manager Doug Gilchrist said there are no bylaws or policies in place to ease the impact on tenants in these situations.

"There's a policy conversation to be had," said Gilchrist.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"A policy conversation of council and see what your options are."

Webber is looking forward to that conversation because he believes there's a lot more of this to come.

"Most of our apartment buildings were built in the 60s and 70s. Now they're being called 'end of life'," he said.

"And we're hearing that they're going to get torn down for much more unaffordable buildings."

A fired-up Rick Webber wrapped up the interview by apologizing for going on a bit of a rant on the subject.

"It's one of our bigger problems," he said.

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