Southwest B.C. had strong numbers on housing starts in 2022, report finds, but more still needed
In 2022, construction began on 29,414 housing units in Southwest B.C.: report
Last year's housing starts in Southwest B.C. were the second-highest ever, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), though the organization and other experts say more are still needed for Canada's rapidly growing population.
An annual report on investment trends from the accountants notes that in 2022, construction began on 29,414 housing units in the region, which includes Metro Vancouver, the Sea-to-Sky region and the Fraser Valley.
Though 7.4 per cent below 2019's all-time high, it represents a 1.7-per-cent increase from 2021, CPABC said.
"Given the housing affordability crisis across Southwest B.C., and with the expectation we will see significant population growth over the coming years, it is encouraging to see robust residential investment in 2022," said Lori Mathison, CPABC president and CEO, in a statement.
Of those construction starts, the report found, 5,450 were detached homes, 14.4 per cent more from 2021. The remaining 23,964 were attached units — such as condos — 0.8 per cent less than 2021.
While the number is strong in comparison to past years, the accountants and other experts say more will be needed to provide homes for the rapidly growing number of Canadians.
Immigration drives growth
The country's population grew by over a million people for the first time ever in 2022, almost entirely because of a boom in immigrants and temporary residents.
Statistics Canada says 96 per cent of the 1.05 million additional Canadians in 2022 were international immigrants as Canada's population rose to 39.57 million.
Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University's City Program, says many are struggling to find suitable housing.
"Ongoing challenges … the availability of affordable and adequate housing for many in the areas that immigrants are assembling, I think, still are outstanding," Yan said.
Jonathan Oldman, CEO of the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., says the growing immigration numbers offer incredible benefits for Canada, economically and culturally.
"We do need to make sure … we plan for that though," Oldman said, including making sure there is enough housing for newcomers.
"There is no sugarcoating the fact that there is enormous pressure for affordable housing."
More investment needed
Oldman says governments of all levels need to keep investing in affordable housing.
The CPABC says when it comes to housing investments, there are signs the pace of construction could slow.
"For instance, the level of building permits issued fell precipitously after interest rates began increasing," Mathison said.
"High interest rates and economic uncertainty will weigh down investment in 2023. Given this challenge, we need to focus on policies that continue to attract investment to the region."
With files from Yvette Brend, Susana da Silva and Lyndsay Duncombe