CMHC reports Greater Victoria housing starts reached 3,825 single detached and multi-family units from January to October this year. That’s an increase of 45% over last year’s 2,896, which was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Total starts for the month of October was 337, led by Langford (129) and Victoria (79). Year-to-date, Langford is the home of one third of all new housing (1,260) with a variety of single detached, semi-deatched, row housing and condos.

Victoria has posted 1,198 new units of which 1,147 are condos. The municipality still struggles to create missing middle housing for young families, mostly due to obstructive zoning, long permit processes and high fees.

Oak Bay posted zero missing middle housing this year mostly because they made duplex zoning illegal years ago, and the existing older duplexes are now non-conforming to their bylaws, which cannot be easily replaced.

The housing challenges in the majority of municipalities are outlined in the recent Housing Needs Reports, which the BC govt has done nothing significant to address.

Housing inventory is at historical lows as prices continue to climb to historical highs, the result of choking housing supply for years in the CRD, while demand increases. 

It’s a supply and demand issue.

There is a large demographic of millennials starting families and a 55% increase in immigration requiring reasonably affordable housing, all of which was predictable but ignored by the province.

According to the Victoria Real Estate Board, “There were 1,036 active listings for sale on the Victoria Real Estate Board Multiple Listing Service® at the end of October 2021, 51.2 per cent fewer properties than the 2,122 available at the end of October 2020 and 7.8 per cent fewer properties than the 1,124 active listings for sale at the end of September 2021.”

So far, the BC govt’s only plan is that couples, each owning a condo, including newlyweds, will be charged Speculation Tax on one of the units, even if the strata does not allow rentals. The claim this creates more vacancies and housing affordability has been disproven by the ongoing low vacancy rate and rising prices. The tax may also violate Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms requiring equal treatment “regardless of..residency, marital status, citizenship.”

More supply to address demand is critical for affordability, and that will be accomplished only through an enforceable regional plan in the CRD.