Based on the latest CMHC statistics, Langford continues to lead in new home construction and jobs posting 840 starts from January to August 2020 vs 776 starts during the same time last year. Langford is up 8% this year and accounts for almost 40% of all new homes. The CRD total is 2,154, up from 2,060 last year, a rise of 4.5% despite the pandemic. The August 2020 starts are up 61% vs the same month last year from 139 to 224. However, year-to-date data is a better indicator of the market.
Colwood posts the second highest housing starts at 252 and has recently approved major new subdivisions, offering more choice and affordability for young families. Single detached homes in Greater Victoria continue to increase in popuarity from 405 last year to 463 in 2020.
The City of Victoria continues its decline of -81% dropping from 458 homes last year to only 86 this year. At the same time, Victoria is struggling with a housing crisis, partly due to one of the region’s most costly and challenging development permit processes. Saanich is down -9% as it continues to be mired in reviews, studies and new regulations that only add costs to new housing. In fact, the mayor and council claimed to support housing at election time, yet have achieved a -48% decline in new homes since elected.
Langford’s success is the result of a council that creates greater certainty in the development process, without the runaround and sky-high costs found in Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay and several other municipalities. All three municipalities fast-tracked the ill-advised BC Step Code, which the Regonal District of Central Kootenay says in a UBCM motion is “adding further pressure to the affordable housing crisis in BC: Therefore be it resolved that UBCM urge the BC Building and Safety Standards Division to assess regional financial disparities making building affordability and flexible low cost building methods a priority for the revision of the BC Building Code in 2022; And be it further resolved that additions to building code that are beyond structural integrity and safety be addressed through incentives, not punitive or prescriptive measures.”
Housing affordability is a constant public mantra by elected officials in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay, however they consistently add costs to put housing further out-of-reach for young families. The result is a shift from these municipalities to the Westshore for improved liveability and where the average home price is about $200,000 less.
The Royal Bank reports “rising home prices have forced younger Canadians to take on more debt to get a foothold in the housing market. A Statistics Canada study showed that in 2016 Millennials aged 25-34 had an average debt-to-income ratio of 216%, 1.7 times that of Generation Xers when they were the same age, and 2.7 times the ratio of young Baby Boomers. Ultra- low interest rates have made servicing high debt loads easier, but a growing number of younger Canadians were having trouble keeping up with debt payments even before the pandemic. Individuals under 35 accounted for 23.5% of consumer insolvencies last year, up 2 percentage points from five years earlier. The overall insolvency rate across age cohorts hit a nine-year high in 2019.”
Yet these affordability challenges for young families are ignored by councils choking housing supply in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay.