The latest CMHC report shows Greater Victoria is closing in on the 3,247 housing starts set in 1989. Starts to date are 2,696 significantly more than the 2,306 at this time last year. Driving the numbers are multi-family projects in a variety of municipalities including Colwood, Esquimalt, View Royal, Sidney and North Saanich. Multi-family units are usually strong in Langford, Victoria and Saanich, however some smaller communities now appear to be stepping up. The exceptions are Highlands posting 0 and Metchosin – 1, offering little affordable density in their communities. Central Saanich multi starts have declined from 12 to 15.
There are three months remaining in the year and the region would have to average about 200 starts per month to surpass the starts set in 1989. This is very possible despite winter months being traditionally slower. Multi-family will have to carry the numbers since single-detached are actually tracking slightly lower – 681 units vs 697 last year.
If this year surpasses 1989, the next record year would be 1976 – 41 years ago when 4,439 housing starts were posted.
The prediction for 2018 is not as rosy as rising interest rates, tougher mortgage rules and Housing Minister Robinson’s Step Code come into play. In the political race to be seen as the greenest province/municipality, it’s expected the City of Victoria, District of Saanich and others will invoke very high and costly levels of energy efficiency offering negligible real benefit regarding climate change. In fact, some municipalities protecting their large lot status may use the Step Code regulation to discourage affordable housing development. More on the Step Code is available here.