Housing supply

Census data adds weight to calls for more housing supply in Greater Victoria

“But what [the numbers] don’t tell us, it’s the number of people who couldn’t come here, who might want to come here. So while we grew to 7%, what could we have grown to if we had more supply? »

Homebuilders and real estate experts are hoping the cold, hard facts about population growth released Wednesday will lend some firepower to their fight for government action to increase housing supply.

Statistics Canada has released 2021 census data which showed Greater Victoria’s population grew by 8% to 397,237 over the past five years, driven by Langford’s 31.8% growth.

Langford was ranked the third fastest growing community in Canada and now has a population of 46,584.

“When we look at the large increases in census numbers, you see growth of 7% in BC, 7% in Victoria and 32% in Langford, which tells us that if you build it, they will come, David said. Langlois, former chairman of the Victoria Real Estate Board.

Of a record 4,809 new homes started in the area last year, Langford built 1,741.

“But what [the numbers] don’t tell us, it’s the number of people who couldn’t come here, who might want to come here. So while we grew to 7%, what could we have grown to if we had more supply? »

A surge in population has helped fuel the white-hot real estate market, which has seen sales prices soar and inventories shrink to record lows.

The benchmark price for a typical single-family home in the area has been in excess of $1 million for the past few months, and the benchmark price for a typical condo is now over $578,000.

Meanwhile, there are only 744 active listings on the Victoria Real Estate Board listings service.

Langlois said if there was more supply they could accommodate more people.

Industry and homebuilders have been pushing the government for years to cut red tape, costs and wait times that they say are stifling the supply of new homes.

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builder’s Association, said some cold, hard statistics could bolster their case.

“I think that helps. I think the population growth figures from Statistics Canada are undeniable and yes, it is incumbent on governments, municipal and provincial, to try to accommodate people,” he said.

Edge said a recent report on housing in Ontario suggested new developments had become too politicized at the municipal level, with elected officials fearful of getting voted out rather than making a potentially unpopular decision to allow some developments to go ahead. go forward.

“That is clearly our situation in this region as well,” he said.

Last year, Victoria’s homebuilding sector broke a 45-year-old homebuilding record with 4,809 new homes started.

Edge said this is just the beginning to get the area out of a housing deficit and they need the help of municipalities to make processes more efficient.

“The provincial government finally seems to have recognized that the problem is procurement and they are lobbying – or hopefully will lobby – municipalities to speed up their processes, or at least streamline them and make them more urgent,” Edge said “We can’t operate in an environment where it takes two, three or four years or more for a development to be approved.”

Edge said David Eby, the provincial minister responsible for housing, alluded to withholding funding from communities that have policies that hinder housing.

“But we haven’t seen any action yet,” he said. “And as long as there are population growth pressures, people moving to this country, people from other provinces coming to BC, there has to be a reasonable density in every municipality.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com