To understand rising home prices, it’s important to appreciate that Canada is undergoing some of the fastest population growth in our history.

Statistics Canada reports the country’s rate of growth is twice as fast as that of the US and UK.

Canada’s population was 37,589,262 on July 1, 2019, up 531,497 compared with July 1, 2018.

Stats Can says this corresponds to just over one new person added every minute and the population growth was “highest in British Columbia.”

This growth “is due largely to permanent and temporary immigration…” “Between July 2018 and July 2019, the country admitted 313,580 immigrants, one of the highest numbers in history.”

This growth is also part of the reason for our strong economy – people bringing their skills and expertise to the country.

According to BuildForce Canada, BC’s construction industry is expected to lose 44,200 workers to retirement by 2029. Immigration is one effective way to address this challenge.

In welcoming these new Canadians, we have an obligation to ensure there is sufficient housing.

More than half a million new Canadians annually need a place to live, yet traditionally national housing starts are about 200,000 per year.

In fact, Greater Victoria’s new housing starts declined from 4,273 in 2018 to 3,499 last year.

Inadequate housing supply combined with strong demand results in high housing prices.

The solution is municipalities need to be more in sync with national policies, including local zoning and permit processes that recognize Canada’s strong growth.

Elected officials at every level must work together to ensure new housing keeps pace with population growth in the interests of affordability.

They can best assist this by planning for higher density, streamlining permit processes, and avoiding unnecessary fees, taxes and regulations.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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