This article has been amended since first posting. Previously published figures on B.C. housing starts and Canada housing starts were incorrect.
In a year when housing starts reached their highest level in the past decade, the west side of Coquitlam was the busiest spot in the Tri-Cities, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
There were 3,099 housing starts across the Tri-Cities last year, an uptick of 11 percent from last year and an increase of 102 percent compared to 2011 figures.
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“Even after the pandemic, people kept on building,” noted Andy Yan, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University.
One of the contributors to the spate of construction in the Tri-Cities may be the redevelopment of older buildings.
“They’re relatively cheap compared to say, downtown Vancouver,” Yan said.
But while the CMHC numbers are useful, there are many factors not captured in the data, Yan said. Unit size, unit design, amenities, and location are critical, he explained.
“All of [those factors] have an affect on livability,” he said.
Rental vacancy rates
Based on the most recent figures provided (October 2020) the rental vacancy is 1.7 percent across the Tri-Cities. That rate was pegged at 3.1 percent in 2010 and sunk to a low of 1.1 in 2015.
“The rule of thumb is a three-to-five percent is a healthy vacancy rate,” Yan said.
However, it’s “extremely difficult” to get a full picture of the vacancy rate, Yan added, explaining more attention is often given to purpose built rental as opposed to condos.
CMHC’s vacancy rates tend to be less reliable or unavailable when it comes to three-bedroom units. However, vacancy rates for apartments and rowhouses across the Tri-Cities were put at 0. The reliability of that estimate, according to CMHC is “Good,” the third highest of the agency’s four ratings.
Housing starts by municipality
- Coquitlam: 2,351
- Port Coquitlam: 310
- Port Moody: 427
- Anmore/Belcarra: 11
More than 80 percent of last year’s housing starts in the Tri-Cities were for apartments, with 2,537 units getting under construction. Housing starts in 2021 also included 332 rowhouses, 22 semi-detached homes and 208 single-detached homes.
From 2017 to 2020, the average rent in the Tri-Cities rose $262, going from $1,081 to $1,343.
Housing across the Tri-Cities
In total, CMHC recorded 3,111 housing completions in 2021, a spike of 72 percent from 2020.
Approximately 62 percent of last year’s starts – 1,950 units including 1,705 apartments – were in west Coquitlam.
And across B.C.
Construction started on a total of 11,013 single-detached homes in B.C. last year, a jump of 29 percent compared to 2020. There were starts on 36,595 other types of housing, a 25 percent increase from 2020.
Overall, there were 47,609 housing starts in B.C. in 2021.
And across the country
Despite huge fluctuations among provinces, housing starts rose by approximately 20 percent across Canada for a total of 244,651 housing starts in 2021.