Tax wealthy homeowners to fund affordable housing, says new B.C. proposal

To improve affordable housing, a B.C. economist says the province needs a more progressive property tax system — one that raises levies on high-value properties and people who own multiple homes.

Such a policy, says Alex Hemingway, will raise billions of dollars for public housing projects while simultaneously dampening home price growth over the long term.

The policy proposal, laid out in a white paper published Wednesday with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives of B.C., comes as residential property values have grown a “staggering” $1.7 trillion over the past two decades, leading to greater inequality among those who own a home and those who don't, says Hemingway.

“In terms of addressing the inequality that’s been created, that’s really where property tax comes front and centre,” Hemingway told Glacier Media in an interview.

Because property tax reform is both complex and contentious, Hemingway is calling on a citizen’s assembly to discuss options.

12% of B.C. households would pay more, says economist

Hemingway's proposals largely focuses on greater taxes on the priciest properties in B.C., but also reforms along the edges, such as greater emphasis on taxing land and not buildings, as a way to incentivize denser forms of housing.

To raise an extra $580 million annually, Hemingway proposes doubling the existing provincial property surtax on residential properties valued above $3 million (to 0.4 per cent) and $4 million (to 0.8 per cent), as well as adding a new bracket above $7 million (1.5 per cent).

To raise even more money, Hemingway suggests the provincial government apply extra property taxes on owners of multiple homes and properties valued at over $1.5 million. In such a scenario, just 12 per cent of B.C. households would pay more, adding about $2 billion for public housing projects.

That surtax, known as the Additional School Tax, was brought in by the BC NDP government in 2019 and is opposed by the opposition party, BC United.

“The B.C. government has taken some important but limited steps in recent years when it comes to taxing residential property wealth,” said Hemingway.

Lack of public investment adding to cost-of-living crisis

Hemingway said the existing surtax is a “drop in the bucket,” compared to recent gains in property values, which currently climb around $223 million annually.

Despite political opposition, Hemingway says polling shows high public support for taxing the wealthy.

“People recognize [higher home values] has been a stroke of luck, and it’s unintentionally come at the expense of others. And that’s corrosive on our social fabric,” said Hemingway.

Hemingway says public spending as a percentage of GDP has declined over the past generation.

“That lack of public investment has contributed to some of the cost-of-living crisis we’re seeing. And that’s why it’s sensible to be thinking about raising additional revenue,” he said.

Hemingway further proposes more complex changes to the current property tax scheme. By shifting tax away from buildings to the land itself, the government could incentivize building denser forms of housing, which Hemingway supports.

Hemingway says it’s also worth considering a consistent property tax rate, as opposed to having it fluctuate (historically downward) to align with government budgets.

“A first step would be to stop automatically cutting provincial property tax rates when property values rise faster than inflation. Holding rates steady wouldn’t raise much revenue initially, but if property values continue escalating, it would raise revenue and ensure more land value gains are captured for the public good,” wrote Hemingway.

To address declining property values, Hemingway suggests a rate floor, especially in regions where home prices are extremely out of line with local incomes.

Hemingway says governments may also want to consider expanding property tax payment deferrals until a property is sold. Currently, the deferral program only exists for homeowners over age 55 and families.

Under a higher property tax scheme, Hemingway said “we may want to expand and if not universalize that option.”

At the heart of Hemingway’s proposal is an effort to disincentivize housing, or land, as an asset class.

Open to 'tax shift' proposal to lower burden on low and mid-level earners

While not including it in his proposal, Hemingway says he supports a plan backed by the think-tank Generation Squeeze that would lower income and sales taxes to offset any hike in property taxes.

The plan seeks to cut provincial income tax on the first $30,000 an individual earns. B.C.’s second income tax rate would be eliminated, leaving earnings from roughly $40,000 to about $79,000 taxed at the rate of 5.06 per cent rather than 7.7 per cent. Furthermore, British Columbians would pay a provincial sales tax between five and seven per cent — all in exchange for a property surtax on properties valued at over $1 million.

“Right now we shelter housing wealth, especially high housing wealth, from taxation and we disproportionately draw on income taxation, including from middle and lower income renters, who aren’t benefiting from massive housing wealth growth,” said Paul Kershaw, a professor in public health at the University of British Columbia and head of Generation Squeeze.

Kershaw says his “tax shift” proposal — aimed at addressing generational wealth inequities — is needed to pay for the growing social and health needs of an aging population. For that reason, he said it only makes sense to draw revenue from that source, which happens to own much of the land in the province.



Canadian New Home Prices Slip In July After Two Months Of Growth

Prices continued to edge upwards in the Canadian resale market last month — seeing a near-record rise, no less — but the same can’t be said for the new home segment, underlining the considerable headwinds facings homebuilders across the country.

Statistics Canada’s (StatCan) new housing price index fell by 0.1% between June and July, not only erasing the 0.1% increase observed the month prior, but marking the first dip since May. Prior to May, national new home prices had been trending downwards since August 2022.

New home prices slipped the most month over month in Victoria (-0.8%), followed by Greater Sudbury (-0.7%), Regina (-0.5%), and Ottawa (-0.5%), “with builders in many CMAs noting weakened market conditions as the reason for the reported monthly declines,” said StatCan on Monday.

Conversely, prices edged up month over month in Sherbrooke (+1.2%) and St. John's (+1.0%).

Year over year, new home prices slid 0.9% nationally. StatCan attributes this to borrowing costs, which have risen steadily since July 2022 and have served to hamper the new housing market. The government agency also points to the fact that there was 54.2% more unabsorbed inventory (single-family homes completed but not sold) in July 2023 over July 2022, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Locally, Victoria also led the year-over-year decline in July, with new home prices falling 3.7%. Prices also slipped in Edmonton by 2.9%. Meanwhile, the greatest year-over-year increases were observed in Québec (+3.5%), Calgary (+1.6%), and St. John's (+1.6%).

Industry “Downbeat,” Says Home Builders’ Associations

July’s overall price slide is another burden to bear for Canadian homebuilders, 67% of which are already scaling back their building endeavours given the pressures of the times according to a recent report for Q2-2023 from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA).

What’s more, out of fear that they won’t secure the buyers necessary to render their projects worthwhile, 22% told CHBA they are axing projects completely.

“While the spring busy season helped prospective new home sales traffic somewhat, affordability challenges related to interest rates and construction costs remain very much a concern, and have been compounded by the July rate hike by the Bank of Canada shortly after Q2 survey data was collected,” said the organization earlier this month.

“Converting prospective buyers into sales remains a challenge, as do closings from previous sales. Due to the high interest rate environment, nearly half of CHBA’s panelists reported that buyers are requiring alternative lending solutions and one-third said they are needing to make accommodations for some buyers so they can close.”


All in all, said CHBA, the Canadian homebuilding industry “remains downbeat,” which spells dismal things for not only homebuilders, but the housing market at large.


Housing construction starts in Metro Vancouver up by 50% this year to date

New data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) shows actual housing starts in Metro Vancouver over the first seven months of 2023 through the end of July were up by 50% compared to the same period in 2022.

A total of 211 single-family detached housing starts were recorded in July 2023 — down from 276 in July 2022.

But for all other housing types, a broad category that includes apartments, CMHC recorded 2,751 actual housing starts in July 2023 — up from 1,700 over the same month last year.

The total number of housing starts in Metro Vancouver in July 2023 reached 2,962 units — up from 1,976 in July 2022.

Province-wide, British Columbia saw a total of 4,002 housing starts in July 2023 — slightly up from 2,798 units in July 2022.

Generally, housing starts are defined as the beginning of construction work on the building.


For housing starts seasonally adjusted at annual rates (SAAR), based on a six-month moving average, CMHC recorded a total of 35,438 units in Metro Vancouver as of July 2023 — down from 46,282 in June 2022. Provincially, this rate was down by 25% to 47,730 units.

Nationwide, housing starts SAAR in July 2023 increased for the second consecutive month.

“Despite a decrease in the SAAR of housing starts relative to last month, July saw a healthy number of actual housing starts from a historical perspective. This pushed the trend of housing starts upward for the second consecutive month. Market intelligence suggests multi-unit projects started in June and July were likely financed a few months prior, so the effect of the most recent interest rate hikes on housing starts remains to be seen,” said Bob Dugan, the chief economist of CMHC, in a statement.

According to MLA Canada’s separate account for the combined areas of the real estate boards of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, there were five pre-sale project launches in July 2023 with a combined total of 326 pre-sale units. This is down from their June 2023 tally of 16 project launches with a combined total of 1,849 pre-sale units.


The pre-sale sold rate in July 2023 was 33%.

For August 2023, MLA Canada is forecasting four project launches with 804 pre-sale units, including 634 concrete units, 40 woodframe units, and 130 townhome units. The project launches at Shape Properties’ City of Lougheed and Anthem Properties’ Citizen are expected to drive August’s higher numbers.

“As predicted, a number of projects rushed to release in June before the summer slowdown. After hitting a monthly high for released inventory, July saw significantly less product typical of the summer season, and August is expected to be similar,” said Suzana Goncalves with MLA Canada in a statement.

“There is some current optimism driving a number of potential launches in the Fall but a looming Bank of Canada announcement early September is still creating some trepidation among developers while buyers look for long-term, pre-sale purchase opportunities.”


Comparable to Metro Vancouver, Greater Toronto also similarly saw a decrease in its housing starts SAAR, falling by 29% in July 2023. Conversely, over the same month, the regions of Montreal went up by 12%, Calgary went up by 33%, and Edmonton went up by 67%.

Actual 2023 year-to-date housing starts in Greater Toronto were 35% above the same first seven months in 2022.


Home Sales Up Nearly 400% Since Start of Year In Some Canadian Cities

In anticipation of falling interest rates, home sales and prices began to rise across Canada in February as sidelined buyers returned to the market. Although the Bank of Canada reignited its rate hike campaign in June, both metrics have continued to climb.

According to the latest figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), home sales rose 1.5% month-over-month in June, while the Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index climbed 2% -- a "large increase for a single month."

From January to June, the unexpectedly frenzied spring market led sales activity to soar nearly 400% in some cities, while prices increased by as much as 19%.

With purchasers seemingly unperturbed by rising rates, Zoocasa compared home prices and sales activity from January and June to determine where buyers have bounced back.

Nationally, home sales have more than doubled, up 139.62% in June compared to January. But, of the 23 cities included in the real estate agency's report, 15 have seen even greater gains, while only one has seen sales rise by less than 100%.

Guelph experienced the most significant increase -- the number of homes sold in June was 387.38% higher than in January -- followed by North Bay, which recorded a 366.67% increase in sales over the same time period.

As the report notes, though, the aforementioned markets are on the smaller side and saw fewer overall sales -- 424 and 126, respectively, in June. When looking at larger cities with over 1,000 sales per month, Fraser Valley experienced the largest increase in activity, at 214.46%.

The Greater Toronto Area saw the highest number of home sales overall in June, at 7,480, a 141.29% jump from January, while Calgary's 3,996 sales marked a 162.38% increase from January.

The only region to not experience at least a doubling of sales was the Quebec CMA; activity was up 42.8% in June compared to January.

With sales soaring, and inventory low, prices have begun to creep up as well. The national average price hit $760,600 in June, a 7.89% increase from January.

In Sudbury, where sales have risen 195% since the start of the year, prices have increased by 19.22%. Despite the jump, the city's average home price of $456K is still considerably affordable.

Sitting at a comparable $408,900 in June, prices in North Bay have risen 11.57% since January. Even Quebec, with its comparatively slower increase in sales, saw prices rise 6.66% to $337,800 from January to June.

Concerning large markets, Fraser Valley once again led the way -- the city's average home price hit $1,040,900 in June, a 10.82% jump from January. The GTA trailed, with prices increasing 9.41% to $1,171,300 from January to June.

Montreal sat at the other end of the spectrum, with prices rising just 3.45% to $516,400. The city saw sales jump 102.51% from January to June.



Bank of Canada raises policy rate 25 basis points, continues quantitative tightening.

The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to 5%, with the Bank Rate at 5¼% and the deposit rate at 5%. The Bank is also continuing its policy of quantitative tightening.

Global inflation is easing, with lower energy prices and a decline in goods price inflation. However, robust demand and tight labour markets are causing persistent inflationary pressures in services. Economic growth has been stronger than expected, especially in the United States, where consumer and business spending has been surprisingly resilient. After a surge in early 2023, China’s economic growth is softening, with slowing exports and ongoing weakness in its property sector. Growth in the euro area is effectively stalled: while the service sector continues to grow, manufacturing is contracting. Global financial conditions have tightened, with bond yields up in North America and Europe as major central banks signal further interest rate increases may be needed to combat inflation.

The Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report (MPR) projects the global economy will grow by around 2.8% this year and 2.4% in 2024, followed by 2.7% growth in 2025.

Canada’s economy has been stronger than expected, with more momentum in demand. Consumption growth has been surprisingly strong at 5.8% in the first quarter. While the Bank expects consumer spending to slow in response to the cumulative increase in interest rates, recent retail trade and other data suggest more persistent excess demand in the economy. In addition, the housing market has seen some pickup. New construction and real estate listings are lagging demand, which is adding pressure to prices. In the labour market, there are signs of more availability of workers, but conditions remain tight, and wage growth has been around 4-5%. Strong population growth from immigration is adding both demand and supply to the economy: newcomers are helping to ease the shortage of workers while also boosting consumer spending and adding to demand for housing.

As higher interest rates continue to work their way through the economy, the Bank expects economic growth to slow, averaging around 1% through the second half of this year and the first half of next year. This implies real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2023 and 1.2% in 2024. The economy will move into modest excess supply early next year before growth picks up to 2.4% in 2025.

Inflation in Canada eased to 3.4% in May, a substantial and welcome drop from its peak of 8.1% last summer. While CPI inflation has come down largely as expected so far this year, the downward momentum has come more from lower energy prices, and less from easing underlying inflation. With the large price increases of last year out of the annual data, there will be less near-term downward momentum in CPI inflation. Moreover, with three-month rates of core inflation running around 3½-4% since last September, underlying price pressures appear to be more persistent than anticipated. This is reinforced by the Bank’s business surveys, which find businesses are still increasing their prices more frequently than normal.

In the July MPR projection, CPI inflation is forecast to hover around 3% for the next year before gradually declining to 2% in the middle of 2025. This is a slower return to target than was forecast in the January and April projections. Governing Council remains concerned that progress towards the 2% target could stall, jeopardizing the return to price stability.

In light of the accumulation of evidence that excess demand and elevated core inflation are both proving more persistent, and taking into account its revised outlook for economic activity and inflation, Governing Council decided to increase the policy interest rate to 5%. Quantitative tightening is complementing the restrictive stance of monetary policy and normalizing the Bank’s balance sheet. Governing Council will continue to assess the dynamics of core inflation and the outlook for CPI inflation. In particular, we will be evaluating whether the evolution of excess demand, inflation expectations, wage growth and corporate pricing behaviour are consistent with achieving the 2% inflation target. The Bank remains resolute in its commitment to restoring price stability for Canadians.



Burnaby home prices still rising

Home prices continue to rise month-over-month in Metro Vancouver, and Burnaby is no exception.

Detached home and apartment prices have risen across the city, according to a new report by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

“Despite elevated borrowing costs, there continues to be too little resale inventory available relative to the pool of buyers in Metro Vancouver,” said Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director of economics and data analytics, in a news release. “This is the fundamental reason we continue to see prices increase month over month across all segments.”

In Burnaby, the estimated price of a typical property (called the benchmark price), ranged from about $1.03 million in north Burnaby to $1.19 million in east Burnaby. South Burnaby saw a benchmark price of $1.12 million last month across all property types.

North Burnaby saw a 0.9 per cent increase from May, east Burnaby a 2.7 per cent increase, and South Burnaby a 1 per cent increase from the previous month.

But in the last year, prices have dropped a little. North Burnaby saw its residential benchmark drop 3.7 per cent from a year ago – but it’s still up 26.8 per cent from three years ago.

And townhome prices in east Burnaby fell slightly since May, with a benchmark of $863,500 (down 1.3 per cent, but up 27.1 per cent from three years ago).

The REBGV is calling on the provincial government to adjust the threshold for the first-time homebuyers’ exemption from the property transfer tax.

The REBGV noted the benchmark price for apartments in the region is now $767,000 – while the current threshold for the first-time buyers’ tax exemption is $525,000.

“This is a simple policy adjustment that could help more first-time buyers afford a home right now,” Lis said.

In Burnaby last month, there were 65 detached homes sold (median selling price: $2 million), 67 attached homes (median price: $990,000), and 258 apartments sold (median price: $738,000), according to the REBGV data.

Benchmark prices for apartments

  • Burnaby East: $798,600 (up 1.2 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby North: $753,800 (up 0.1 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby South: $812,100 (up 0.8 per cent this month)

Benchmark prices for townhomes

  • Burnaby East: $863,500 (down 1.3 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby North: $903,500 (up 0.1 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby South: $997,800 (up 0.6 per cent this month)

Benchmark prices for detached homes

  • Burnaby East: $1.91 million (up 4.8 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby North: $2.04 million (up 2.9 per cent this month)

  • Burnaby South: $2.2 million (up 1.7 per cent this month)



Canada's housing market is hot again — expect it to stay that way, economists say

The slowdown in the Canadian housing market that marked much of last year appears over as prices and sales increase, and that strength is likely to continue, clipping affordability even more, according to economists at Desjardins Group.

A spike in home sales and prices across Canada, brought on in part by the Bank of Canada’s pause in interest rate hikes earlier this year along with a lack of listings, is no fluke, said Desjardins economists Randall Bartlett and Hélène Bégin in their residential real estate outlook headlined, “For better and for worse, Canada’s housing market is back.” The economists said strength in prices and sales will have “staying power,” which will ultimately dent affordability even more. But the Bank of Canada can’t be blamed for this round of strength. Instead, a number of other factors are at play, including strong population growth, a resilient labour market and continued flush household savings accounts, built up during the pandemic, the economists said.

For one thing, immigration to Canada is growing, and newcomers to the country are flooding into the housing market. The group plays a strong role in housing market dynamics and are even more likely to own some types of dwellings, such as condos, than people born in the country, Desjardins said. But it’s not only immigrants driving demand, and non-permanent residents, the numbers of which have also surged, are searching for places to live, too. That’s spilled into the rental market, causing rents to spike. Then, as home prices fell last year and rents rose, more people found it made financial sense to invest their money in buying a home instead of shelling out the equivalent of a mortgage payment to a landlord. The result is more people entering the housing market, sending prices and sales higher.

A strong labour market is also helping to ignite housing further. Increases to wages and job security mean people are building more wealth, and buying homes with their money. At the same time, the jobs market shows no sign of slowing down in a meaningful way, the economists said, amid continued high vacancies and a low unemployment rate all while the country welcomes an influx of immigrants. That will help keep the housing market humming along. Meanwhile, wealth gains are also coming from massive amounts of savings built up over the pandemic. Of course, it’s high income earners who still have much of these savings. They’re also more likely to deploy that money into the housing market, helping keep the rebound going.

There’s another major factor contributing to high prices: supply. Housing starts have been higher than usual, but that won’t last, Desjardins said. What’s more, the housing that’s being built isn’t what buyers really want. Most starts are condos and they are shrinking in size even as detached homes, which carry the heftiest price tag, grow bigger and bigger. The result is a “missing middle” in supply, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. If homebuyers can’t find the types of houses they’re seeking, that will send home prices heading even higher, as competition grows for a limited number of properties. And don’t expect prospective buyers to be saved by government initiatives designed to boost housing starts. “Despite ambitious policy announcements to the contrary, there is little meaningful relief in sight from any level of government,” the report said.

Still, higher interest rates might cool the market, at least a little. The Bank of Canada raised interest rates another 25 basis points in a surprise hike in June, bringing the key policy rate to 4.75 per cent. Desjardins expects the central bank will hike by another 25 basis points at least once more, with an increase coming as early as July. That might work to keep some people on the sidelines, helping to dampen price increases and sales. The economists also caution that the full effect of interest rate hikes has yet to be felt by people with fixed-payment variable-rate mortgages, whose banks have been adding any extra interest owed to the mortgage principal instead of requiring higher payments now, thereby extending amortization periods and kicking “housing and economic pain down the road.”

It won’t be enough to take the steam out of the market completely, however. “Despite higher interest rates, housing demand is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future,” the report said.

All those factors are playing out differently in housing markets across Canada, with some areas feeling the effects more than others. For example, British Columbia and Ontario have experienced a spike in prices and sales amid an influx of immigrants. That’s pushed younger homebuyers from those provinces to other markets in search of affordability, and Alberta, along with the Prairies and Atlantic provinces, have benefited from the migration. But now that’s causing those regions’ home prices to creep higher. As far as Quebec goes, it’s not experienced much migration, but a lack of housing starts is eating into supply, threatening affordability, the economists said. That trend is also occurring across the country and is expected to impact affordability for years to come — and not for the better.

“Unless something is done urgently to increase supply, affordability will get a lot worse before it has any hope of getting better,” Bartlett and Bégin said.



How foreign homeownership bans and major increases in immigration could impact the BC housing market.

If there’s one thing that every real estate agent, developer and homeseeker can agree on when it comes to the BC housing market, it’s that it’s always changing. 

From government interventions to leaky condos to a pandemic push to the suburbs, history proves time and again that it’s impossible to predict what’s next on our collective real estate journey. But a new report from the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA) stresses that challenging times are ahead if the province can’t significantly boost supply in the coming years, as immigration-driven demand is set to peak. The report says that a sustained 25% boost in supply would alleviate the rise in prices set to come, let’s take a look at the report and help guide you through their findings. 

 Two for the show. 

Over the next three years, there are two significant government policies that will affect housing demand in British Columbia more than any other. First on the list is the Foreign Buyers Ban, also known as the "No Home for You, Non-Canadians Act." It's like a vigilant bouncer at an exclusive nightclub, denying entry to non-Canadians seeking to snag residential properties. The goal? To cool down those sizzling home prices and prevent homes from turning into magical money-making machines. 

The real showstopper is the government's increased immigration targets. We're talking about welcoming a staggering 1.5 million new permanent residents here in Canada by 2025. B.C. alone is expected to open its doors to an estimated 217,500 new permanent residents from 2023 to 2025, nearly double the historical average immigration levels. It's a massive influx of talent, diversity, and demand storming the housing market. Brace yourselves, folks—BC is about to get cozy.


While the Foreign Buyers Ban has been put in place to prevent foreign investors from buying up homes and using them as speculative financial assets, the BCREA believes there is weak evidence that the ban will achieve its objective of lowering home prices. On the other hand, the association says that increased immigration targets will have five times more impact on demand than the Foreign Buyers Ban, necessitating a 25 percent increase in new home completions to offset the deterioration in affordability. Don’t kid yourself - that would be a massive increase. 

At the end of the day, the impact of the increase in immigration targets is much more significant than the decline in sales due to the prohibition on foreign buyers. The increased national target for immigration will translate to approximately 20,500 new BC households over and above average annual immigration. This means that there will be a 20,500-unit increase in demand for either ownership or rental housing just from permanent residents. Given the challenging affordability of many cities in BC, only a portion of the new households formed as a result of increased immigration will become homeowners.

Balancing act.

To alleviate the strain on the housing market caused by sudden changes in demand, the government can take steps to increase the supply of housing. Some of these steps may involve modifying zoning regulations to permit more construction, allocating more funds to affordable housing initiatives, and offering incentives to developers to construct additional housing units. If they’re committed to increasing supply, they need to act quickly - which is a word that, historically, most legislators around the country are unfamiliar with. 

The BCREA found that to keep up with the increase in immigration, new home construction in BC must increase by 25 percent over the next five years, reaching a record level of about 43,000 completions annually. Although that pace of completion is similar to what was achieved in 2020 and 2021, higher interest rates and weaker market conditions make that rate of completion much more difficult to hit. Additionally, the ban on foreign buyers has made it more challenging to finance new home construction without access to international capital markets.

Slow your roll.

Lowering price growth so that income growth can catch up to prices is integral to improving housing affordability in BC, and an appropriate supply response could offset the impact on affordability. On a longer time horizon, it can also help to make progress in permanently improving affordability. 

Instead of policies designed to limit demand through taxation or prohibition, the BCREA’s findings suggest that governments should pursue an abundance agenda for housing. An agenda that includes more housing, fewer obstacles to building more housing, and a streamlined process to get more housing to the market faster. Without such an agenda, it will only be a matter of time before the market is again facing accelerated price growth and deteriorating affordability as demand soars and supply struggles to keep pace.

Planning for success.

If you were having a dinner party and you only had eight seats at your table, you wouldn’t invite 12 friends over without bringing up your trusty folding table and chairs from the crawl space. Otherwise, your friends Barry, Ellen, Rocco and Sophia are going to end up eating Pasta Primavera on your brand-new Chesterfield, and we all know Rocco can’t be trusted not to make a mess. Especially with chocolate lava cake coming for dessert. It costs not to plan ahead. 

While immigration plays a vital role in the economy by supporting economic growth, creating job opportunities, and bringing diversity to communities, it also adds significantly to housing demand. As the population continues to grow and global migration patterns persist, it is essential to understand and embrace the positive impacts of immigrants in the broader economy while also planning for the impact on housing. 

Let’s get the table and chairs from the basement. The challenge lies in creating policies and programs that support and welcome immigrants while addressing the consequent pressures on an already stressed housing market. 43,000 new completions annually sounds like a good start. 



Housing Trends In Burnaby Have Changed Since 1996

This week, the City of Burnaby launched the “visioning” phase of its new Official Community Plan (OCP), which will guide the long-term vision for Burnaby’s transportation, infrastructure, parks, agriculture, arts, and housing all the way through 2050.

Under British Columbia’s Local Government Act, municipalities in BC are required to have an OCP. Burnaby’s current Official Community Plan was adopted in 1998 and revised in 2014, but the City says that a new updated plan is needed in order to “respond to the current an emerging needs of the community” and “articulate how growth will be shaped and managed.”

One of the biggest topics in Burnaby is housing and urban development, and to surmise what the future of housing in Burnaby will look like, it helps to first understand the past and present.

According to insights compiled by the City, there have been some subtle, but not insignificant, changes when it comes to housing trends in Burnaby.

The biggest shift has arguably been in terms of the kinds of housing found in Burnaby. In 1996, about 42% of all housing in Burnaby were single-family or two-family homes — the most common of all housing types. As of 2021, that number has nearly halved to 22%. Homes in low-rise buildings have also decreased during the same period, but only slightly, from about 28% to 25%.

Meanwhile, all remaining types of housing have increased. Row houses have increased slightly from about 7% to 9%, duplexes have more than doubled from about 7% to 16%, and homes in high-rises have increased from 18% to 29% — the highest of all types of housing, as of 2021.

This data is dated to 2021 but will more than likely continue on this trajectory in the near future, as most of the residential development that’s occurring in Burnaby is taking the form of multi-family buildings, many of which are in high-rises.

Just in the past few months, Burnaby has seen two new master plan proposals in Burnaby Lake Heights and Burnaby Lake Village, which would consist of 12 and 14 buildings, respectively. Both of those are located in the Bainbridge area of Burnaby, but other master plan communities are also taking form in Edmonds and Brentwood, all of which include plans for high-rises.

According to the City, the Metrotown and Brentwood areas have seen the largest increases in housing units by far, and there still remains plenty of projects on the way in those areas, many of which are high-rises.

In terms of the people, Burnaby has seen a shift between homeowners and renters that’s fairly rare not only in British Columbia, but all of Canada. While Canada’s renter population is growing at twice the rate of homeowners, according to Statistics Canada, Burnaby has seen the opposite. In 1996, 45% of households rented compared to 55% of households who owned their homes, but those numbers are 38% and 62% as of 2021.

According to the City, Burnaby had an inventory of 13,850 purpose-built rental units. By 2021, that number had decreased to 11,539. Burnaby has had a reputation for demolishing old rental buildings to make way for newer buildings, many of which were for-sale condominiums rather than apartments for rent.

The average household size in Burnaby has also decreased slightly, from 2.6 people in 1996 to 2.4 people in 2021. That change is attributed to a nearly 5% decrease in households with four or more people, from about 26% to 21%. In that same span, households with one person, two people, or three people all increased by about 1% to 3%.

The total number of homes in Burnaby was 68,750 in 1996 and 101,136 as of 2021, and the City is expecting to hit over 150,000 by 2050.

The development of the Burnaby 2050 Official Community Plan is expected to take multiple years and be completed by Summer 2025. In June, the City will be hosting numerous free events where residents are welcome to learn about and contribute to the development of the plan.



Real estate investment remains strong in Metro Vancouver despite inflation, cost of living: report.

Despite the pressures of inflation and cost of living, more than half of Metro Vancouver real estate investors say they plan to buy another property in the region, according to a survey for a real estate firm.

The Royal LePage survey, conducted by Leger, found 54 per cent of respondents in Greater Vancouver say they intend to purchase an additional residential investment property within the next five years. Of those, just over half will buy a condo.

In Metro Vancouver, 67 per cent of respondents own one residential investment property, while 29 per cent own two or more, according to the survey.

“The appetite for real estate investment is strong in the Greater Vancouver area. Unlike stocks or other investment types, real estate investing offers the convenience of dual utility — you can live in your home or rent it out as a source of income,” said Adil Dinani, a spokesperson for Royal LePage West Real Estate Services, said in a statement.

“There is a positive association between home ownership and the creation of personal wealth in Vancouver.”

Out of the three major urban centres in Canada, a property’s proximity to a post-secondary institution had the greatest influence on Greater Vancouver investors, at 53 per cent, according to the survey.

While higher borrowing and cost of living pressures have caused some Vancouver investors to rein in spending, many have been able to withstand increased expenses, said Dinani.

“In today’s post-pandemic era, despite higher borrowing costs, I expect more people will enter the investor segment as rates hold and eventually ease. Buyers will be looking for opportunities in the market,” said Dinani.

According to the survey, 28 per cent of investors in Greater Vancouver say that increased interest rates have caused them to consider selling one or more of their investment properties. When asked about their plans for the future, 28 per cent of investors in the region say they are likely to sell one or more of their investment properties within the next two years.

Leger says the online survey of 1,003 adult Canadians, who own one or more residential investment properties, was completed between March 2 and March 17 using Leger’s online panel. The company says no margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample from a web panel.

The Leger poll comes as another survey Thursday by Co-operators, a Canadian financial services provider, found only 31 per cent of British Columbians aged 18 to 44 are confident in their ability to choose investment opportunities that will make money. In that survey, 40 per cent say that recent stock market fluctuations have made them hesitant to invest.

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada reported that investors made up almost 10 per cent of homeowners in B.C. in 2020.

The figures show B.C.’s share of investor-occupants, who own a single property with several units, including their primary residence, sat at 9.6 per cent that year, much higher than in other provinces.

For example, investor-occupants made up 2.5 per cent of New Brunswick’s homeowners, 1.8 per cent in Nova Scotia, 0.8 per cent in Ontario and 0.7 per cent in Manitoba, while other provinces weren’t part of the study.

StatCan attributed the high numbers of investor-occupants in B.C. to incremental forms of density, such as single-detached houses with secondary suites or laneway units, duplexes or triplexes.


The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.