Once again, Vancouver region has highest rents, lowest vacancy rate of any major metro area in Canada
More students, mobility brought vacancy rates below 2% again; average 2-bed apartment nears $2,500 per month
The annual release of new rental data across Canada provided an old story when it came to Metro Vancouver.
The region once again had the lowest vacancy rate (1.2 per cent) and highest monthly rents (an average of $2,498 for a two-bedroom condo) of any metropolitan area in Canada with at least a million people.
The data, provided once a year by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), showed the vacancy rate in the Vancouver area decreased by more than half from 2020 to 2021, owing to increased movement into the area as the effects of the pandemic began to ease.
"As we've seen the local economy improve, we've seen migration increase and we've seen students return to the region. All those factors increase demand and combine to lower the vacancy rate," said Eric Bond, a senior specialist with CMHC.
In virtually every major B.C. city, vacancy rates were much lower than the Canadian average of 3.1 per cent — including Victoria (one per cent), Kamloops (0.8 per cent) and Kelowna (0.6 per cent).
The only areas in B.C. above the national average were the northern communities of Terrace (14.2 per cent), Fort St. John (12.7), Fort St. John (12.7), Dawson Creek (9.5) and Prince Rupert (4.6).
Government promising more supply
CMHC found the average person renting a two-bedroom purpose-built apartment in Vancouver would have to work 198 hours per month to keep monthly rent at 30 per cent of their gross income — the threshold of affordability.
"That person has to work more than full-time or needs a second tenant in the unit with them to make that rent affordable," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist.
"That's an even bigger mismatch when you get to that bottom 20 per cent [of earners], so that's something that's a concern to us."
At the same time, the number of newly added rental apartments in Metro Vancouver only went up to 2,550, the lowest level since 2018.
David Eby, B.C.'s minister responsible for housing, told CBC News earlier this month he would be bringing in legislation in the fall to ensure municipalities approved more housing going forward.
"It's not optional whether or not to approve housing, but rather, the role of the city government is to talk about the where — and maybe what it looks like," he said.
"The bottom line is: if you've got 25,000 people every three months moving to Metro Vancouver, then you need to be building homes for them."
With files from The Canadian Press