Vancouver, Burnaby look like a bargain compared to Delta or Langley when housing, transportation costs combined

A ground-breaking new study that combines housing costs with transportation and transit costs has found that apparently expensive municipalities like Vancouver and Burnaby can actually be cheaper for lower income families than Delta, Langley or the North Shore.

The Metro Vancouver Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study, coming to the Metro Board May 15, highlights the staggering burden imposed on middle and low income households by the combination of high housing costs and high transportation costs.

The result is that most families earning up to $75,000 spend as much as 40 percent of their income on transportation and housing if they hold a mortgage, and as much 49 percent if they are renters. That number covers seven out of 10 renters in the region.

Low income renters earning less than $50,000 can spend a crushing 67 percent of their income on housing and transportation.

Those costs are much easier, however, for those close to transit.

The best way to help these families, the study concluded, is to increase the Frequent Transit Network and locate affordable housing close to that network so transportation costs come down along with easier housing options. But the FTN will shrink, not grow, if the current transportation and transit referendum fails.

Of course, being cheaper than Langley does not mean affordable. Metro Vancouver’s housing costs are among the highest in the country, but average incomes are well behind other cities like Calgary and Toronto.

In my opinion, a living wage and decent employment standards are needed as well.