With the extent of today’s housing challenges, everyone has a housing story. With that in mind, we regularly meet with members of our community to be better aware of their challenges, share information and ideas and find new ways to collaborate.

Last month, we presented at the Chamber of Commerce Business Advocacy meeting and our discussions mainly focused on local businesses navigating the challenging landscape of the housing market on top of the day-to-day operational nuances.

At the meeting, local business owners told us that across the range of employers – manufacturing, banking, retail, libraries, health care, restaurants or schools – housing options are scarce, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the needs of a broad range of employee incomes, from ownership options suitable to families to rental options affordable to young professionals or essential staff. Over the years, the housing supply has not kept up with the demand. We also heard loud and clear that the subsequent high housing expenses are making it difficult for employers to attract skilled professionals, and the lack of inventory for affordable housing is leading to a high turnover rate among new hires.

“Affordable housing is without a doubt a factor in the long-term success of businesses in Squamish,” shares Anne MacKenzie, Executive Director at the Squamish Chamber of Commerce.

“Businesses need people, and people need a place to live. If employees – at all levels of an organization, from front-line workers to management to business professionals – aren’t able to secure stable, affordable housing, then the pool of workers shrinks, and that puts the stability and health of the business community at risk,” she adds.

Chamber members noted in the meeting that while larger businesses may be able to purchase or build housing for their staff or offer homebuying assistance programs or housing benefits, this poses a roadblock for small businesses with limited financial flexibility.

A key takeaway from this meeting was that housing and the success of our local economy are closely connected. A lack of attainable housing limits the ability of existing employers to recruit and retain talent and may keep new businesses from investing in new ventures in our community or expanding operations.

Local business is a critical piece of our community fabric, essential to the vibrancy, resilience, and character of our town. For Housing Squamish, this means that we will keep working with all partners to continue learning their needs and working on solutions that support everyone who wants to work, live and play Squamish.