Affordable Housing Research Roundtable comes to Kelowna Feb. 18

A province-wide initiative to address affordable housing issues in British Columbia comes to Kelowna for a full day of public discussion Feb. 18 at UBC's Okanagan campus.

The BC Affordable Housing Research and Action Roundtable scheduled for Kelowna is the third of three sessions held around the province over the past year. Previous roundtables where held in Victoria last February and Vancouver in December.

"After meetings in Victoria and Vancouver, it was a good idea to bring this important event to the interior of BC and particularly to the Okanagan Valley," says Carlos Teixeira, associate professor of geography at UBC's Okanagan campus and one of the organizers of the event.

"The Okanagan Valley and its main economic engine, the City of Kelowna, has one of the most expensive real estate markets in Canada, looking at both rental and home-ownership markets," says Teixeira. "Few other mid-size cities in Canada are confronted with such a problem. Lack of affordable, adequate and suitable housing in the valley is a major issue. It has made the news for the last decade or so, and we are pursuing the important question: How do our communities deal with this problem?"

In BC, growing and aging populations, as well as the changing economy, drive an immediate and growing need for affordable housing. The province's social and geographic diversity provide unique challenges that require joint efforts to improve housing for vulnerable citizens and to stimulate the economy. Teixeira says the roundtable is an opportunity to bring together people from various sectors interested in the creation of an affordable housing agenda for BC.

The public is invited to attend the day of discussions with participants from the development community, First Nations, housing practitioners, housing researchers, graduate student researchers, funding partners, faith-based housing providers, and representatives from municipal, provincial, federal governments.

The February 18 meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the University Centre ballroom (UNC 200). The morning features a panel discussion with keynote presentation by Michael Shapcott, National Housing and Homelessness Leader and Director of Affordable Housing and Innovation for the Wellesley Institute.  The afternoon will include roundtable discussions.

The event is free, however, those wishing to participate are asked to sign up by emailing Tanya Fink at UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning, tanphoto@hotmail.com.

Funding partners for the roundtable are Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS) Accelerate BC and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Commission. Additional sponsors are the BC Ministry of Citizens' Services, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning and the Sauder School of Business, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Office of Community-Based Research and the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria, and UBC's Okanagan campus.

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