Housing sustainability the focus of UBC Okanagan's urban forum Mar. 28

UBC Okanagan's third-annual Urban Forum, taking place in Kelowna on March 28, will look deep into issues of housing sustainability in the Okanagan.

"Housing sustainability is not only an issue in Kelowna, it's an issue in communities throughout the Okanagan," notes Assoc. Prof. of Geography Dr. Carlos Teixeira, who teaches the geography of housing at UBC Okanagan. "In Kelowna, however, the real estate market is one of the most expensive in the country. The average single-family dwelling is already past the $400,000 mark. The housing issue is a priority in this valley and should be at the centre of our preoccupation here. It determines who can afford to stay and who leaves here."

Community planners and scholars will discuss sustainable housing strategies for mid-size cities, particularly focusing on the rapid population growth and numerous housing challenges experienced in the Okanagan Valley.

"It's a chance for the public to hear experts, be part of the discussion, and to ask questions," says Bernard Momer, Assoc. Professor of Geography.

The Urban Forum will take place in two public events. An academic colloquium, starting at 10 a.m. in the UBC Okanagan Library's LIB 305, will be chaired by Naomi McPherson, Assoc. Professor of Anthropology and head of the Community, Culture, and Global Studies unit. The morning colloquium will feature presentations by three noted experts on housing markets, affordability and sustainability:

  • David Hulchanski, Director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Urban and Community Studies, will present "Housing Affordability: Why it is a Problem and What Should be Done About It."
  • Professor David Ley of UBC Vancouver's Department of Geography will speak on the topic, "Vancouver: The Confusing Market of a Global City."
  • Lance Jakubec, an analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, will present “Towards Housing Sustainability: Challenges and Successes.”

At 4:30 p.m. the discussion moves to downtown Kelowna with an expert panel discussion at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, chaired by Bernard Bauer, Dean of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. Opening remarks will be offered by Sharon Shepherd, Mayor of Kelowna, and Donna Senese, Assoc. Professor of Geography at UBC Okanagan. In addition to the morning's colloquium speakers, the afternoon panel includes:

  • Donna Butler, Planning Manager, City of Penticton
  • Juliette Cunningham, Affordable Housing Committee/Housing Strategy Group in Social Planning, City of Vernon
  • Theresa Eichler, Planning and Corporate Services, City of Kelowna
  • Ron Mattiussi, City Manager, City of Kelowna
  • Dave Smith, Director of Planning and Development Services, District of Peachland

This year's Urban Forum is made possible through the support of UBC Okanagan's Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and the Community, Culture and Global Studies unit, the City of Kelowna, the Planning Institute of British Columbia, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the International Programs and Services/Embrace Diversity Committee at UBC Okanagan.

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