Cori and Jeff Mounce
A couple who have lived in Sicamous for 27 years and want to stay might have to leave if they can’t find a place to rent by Aug. 1.
Cori and Jeff Mounce owned a home in town for 25 years, before selling it to raise capital for their business, Mounce Electric.
In the two years since then, they have been renting from the same landlord and running the business out of their residence.
In April, their landlord gave them notice the property was going to be sold.
The Mounces started looking for a new place to rent immediately.
Cori said they haven’t been able to find anything in Sicamous; anything they’ve put in applications for has been in Salmon Arm.
“It’s too bad, Sicamous is our home, this is where we raised our kids,” she said.
Cori said she’s “not at all” confident she and her husband can find accommodations in Sicamous by August and they’ll probably end up in Salmon Arm one way or another.
Since Mounce Electric is run out of their home, the Mounces will be taking their business with them wherever they go. Cori said no matter what, they will still serve Sicamous.
Cori said she and her husband have a fairly good budget so their rental search isn’t hindered by affordability.
However, she understands that for many other families and young people that’s “definitely an issue” and said there’s a lack of affordable housing in the area.
According to Cori, there isn’t a lack of Air BnB’s though.
The Mounces currently live near the Tim Hortons at the intersection of Rauma Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway. Cori is aware of four Air BnB’s in that area alone.
A June 17 search online for an Air BnB in or near Sicamous, for a weekend stay in June or July, showed 27 different options for places to stay—and that’s just the ones that haven’t already been booked.
Cori contended that Air BnBs take away business from local motels as well as taking up rental space.
She said she thinks Sicamous forgets it needs locals to run all the tourist-based businesses it runs on.
“If there’s no housing, people aren’t going to live here. Not to work the jobs they need them to work,” she said.
For the Mounces, the bottom line is they don’t want to leave.
“We’d like to stay here and we are trying to find ways to stay here. But it’s just not looking good right now.”
A woman who has been living in Sicamous since 1993 is concerned the fabric of the town is being irreparably changed.
Yvonne Walmsley said it seems to her that diverse income and age groups are increasingly unable to make a living and/or raise their families in Sicamous.
“People, I fear, are getting left behind,” she said.
According to Walmsley, there’s been a substantial increase in the number of houses being rented for short-term stays in the town and loss of housing stock has created problems for people looking to rent housing.
Council should have a duty to its citizens to see that the housing and property in town is a social asset rather than just for the use of private developers who have the money to extend their private uses and income potential, she said.
“Otherwise, how will the town meet its own community plan goals of encouraging age diversity and supporting attainable housing?” said Walmsley.
Encouraging age diversity and supporting attainable housing are listed as guiding principles of the District of Sicamous in Chapter 1.1 of its most recent Official Community Plan.
Walmsley said she’d like to see more attention to the issue of housing in Sicamous from council and is currently working on bringing it to council’s attention. She encourages others who feel as she does to do the same.