CMHC reports housing starts in Greater Victoria approaching numbers not seen since the 1970’s. As of November, there are 3,700 new homes so far in 2017 compared with 2,933 for all of last year. This year’s starts year-to-date break through the 3,247 set in 1989. The highest recorded number available to VRBA is 4,439 in 1976.
The reason for the strong starts is mostly multi-family construction of 2,876 compared with 1,944 last year. Single family units have actually declined somewhat from 843 to 824. Most municipalities are showing housing increases with the exception of Central Saanich (from 41 to 30) and Highlands (from 37 to 8.)
Central Saanich increased their DCC’s by more than 100% last year using the rationale they needed to accommodate significant growth. VRBA disputed their projections and the decline so far seems to bear that out. The municipality’s building permit process is one of the slowest and most challenging in the CRD. Oak Bay starts are up only from 38 to 41 demonstrating the rezoning/anti-development challenges in that community.
The challenge for housing in 2018 will be new mortgage rules, rising interest rates, and poorly designed, costly energy regulations launched by the Horgan govt called the Step Code. The term is deceptive because it implies the increases take place in steps. It’s really a Leap Code where municipalities may leap to any one of five Tiers adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a home. In addition, those planning to build a simple home based on the National Building Code may now be subjected to the complications and expense of building a Passive/Net Zero home. There is no certified education supporting the Step Code leaving the door open to unintended consequences like leaky condo.