British Columbia

Housing prices could cost Richmond businesses their employees: chamber of commerce

The chair of Richmond's Chamber of Commerce says local businesses want to see a solution, and in their mind, that solution is, “supply, supply, supply.”

Business group says Richmond housing supply is limited by ALR land and height restrictions from airport

Homes in Richmond. The average price of a detached home in the city is $1.7 million, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce is worried those high prices and long commutes could cost businesses their employees. (Volodymyr Kyrylyuk/Shutterstock)

Richmond's Chamber of Commerce says the cost of housing is so high, people who work in Richmond can't afford to live there and businesses are at risk of losing those employees.

The chamber conducted a survey of businesses in the city where 65 per cent of respondents said over half of their workers are commuting from outside the city and 60 per cent said housing affordability was a reason why.

"Not only are they losing employees, it's difficult for them to recruit talent," chair Rob Akimow told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"If they're looking at a position in Richmond, they might just look out in those communities of Tri-Cities, or Ladner or Tsawwassen [instead] ... especially if they have a young family."

The average price of a detached home in Richmond is $1.7 million, says the chamber.

While that's not a unique situation in the Lower Mainland, they say Richmond's supply is limited by 39 percent of the city's land being protected in the Agricultural Land Reserve and height restrictions because of the airport.

Commutes, they say, are made worse by Richmond having a few traffic bottlenecks as people try to get into and out of the island and because some employers — like the airport — draw in such large numbers of employees.

Akimow says local businesses want to see a solution, and in their mind, that solution is "Supply, supply, supply."

"Density is the key," he said. "We would encourage and advocate for all levels of government to continue to build our regional strategy with respect to affordable housing and densification."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast