Nearly 6,000 more people called the Capital Region home in 2021 while increased construction activity is offering them more places to hang their hat.
Statistics from BC Check-Up: Live, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia on demographic and affordability trends across the province, shows the Capital Regional District added 5,941 new residents in 2021, bringing the total population to 432,062.
The region’s population grew by 6.2 per cent between 2017 and 2021, with the population growing by 31,500.
“While still slightly below the level set in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CRD’s population growth has remained resilient compared to the rest of the province,” said Lindalee Brougham, president of LL Brougham Inc., in a release. “This has been primarily from the region’s ability to attract residents from other parts of the country.”
The population growth doesn’t translate into swelling maternity wards as mortalities exceeded births by 1,251 in 2021.
“With one of the lowest fertility rates in Canada, we need to attract immigrants to grow our population,” noted Brougham. “Our population also continues to age, with nearly a quarter of residents 65 or older. As more residents retire, that will put additional pressure on businesses who are already facing significant shortages of labour.”
The vast majority of newcomers to the Capital Region come from other provinces (net gain of 5,286 residents), with another net increase of 1,712 from other parts of British Columbia. In contrast, the region has experienced a decline in the number of international migrants arriving over the past two years, especially non-permanent residents, such as students.
The influx of new residents has brought with it an increase in housing, with 16,842 new units completed over the past five years. Although the number of units completed has been strong in recent years, with 3,938 units completed in 2021 compared to 2,526 in 2017, the number of larger units completed has been relatively flat.
“Across the region, there has been strong housing construction activity. However, developments have typically been smaller attached units replacing older stock, with limited mid-sized units,” said Brougham. “The strongest demand has been for larger units, which has put significant pressure on housing prices for family homes.”
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The average single-family home in Greater Victoria sold for $1.3 million in June, up from $1.04 million in June 2021 and $799,800 in June 2020 (an increase of 62.7 per cent). The average price for an apartment sold in June was $630,100, up by 31.5 per cent compared to June 2020.
“While recent interest rate increases may put some downward pressure on the housing market, the lack of supply will continue to put upward pressure on housing prices over the longer term,” concluded Brougham. “If we want to attract immigrants to grow our economy and support our aging community, we need all levels of government to actively advance policies to boost housing supply to improve affordability.”
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