This duplex under construction on the 1200 block of Tattersall Drive is one of numerous housing projects in the works for Saanich. (Dan Ebenal/News Staff)

Saanich lags behind new housing starts

New figures show Saanich lagging behind both Victoria and Langford in new housing starts.

Saanich, with a 2016 population of 114,148, recorded 598 new housing starts of all types between January and October 2017 – up from 423 new starts during the same period in 2016, according to Housing Now Tables as released by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Both Victoria and Langford, however, outpaced Saanich.

Langford, with a 2016 population of 35,342, recorded 882 new housing starts, up from 783 over the same period. Victoria, with a 2016 population of 85,7920, recorded 899 new starts, up from 782 from the same period.

Read differently, Saanich recorded fewer new housing starts than Victoria and Langford both in absolute and per capita terms, with Langford leading all three communities in terms of per capita growth.

These housing starts speak to larger demographic trends in the region. Langford’s population in 2016 rose by almost 21 per cent compared to 2011, whereas Saanich’s population rose by four per cent during the same period. Victoria’s population, meanwhile, grew by 7.2 per cent.

These figures roughly confirm the larger theory that the outer communities of the Capital Regional District (CRD) will grow faster than the communities in the inner core like Victoria and Saanich, with more established, but also more expensive urban forms. But they also point to nuances and raise questions. While smaller and denser than Saanich, Victoria appears to be growing faster than Saanich, even as Victoria has higher real estate costs than Saanich.

One clue to this question appears in the Preliminary Housing Start Data for December 2017, as released by CMHC. Of the 3,700 new housing starts recorded in the Greater Victoria area between January and November 2017, 824 qualified as single-detached homes — the rest as multi-family homes, with many concentrated in the urban core. Langford, meanwhile, recorded by far the highest number of completed single-detached homes among the CRD communities with 224 between January and October 2017.

Recent statistics also draw to two other phenomenon. The construction of rental properties has increased in the Greater Victoria area. CMHC recorded the construction of 1,400 rental units across the region between January and October 2017.

Overall, these figures suggest a shift away from single-detached homes towards multi-family units. But if this development represents a change, the market remains over-valued, according to CMHC.

“CMA housing market trends continued to indicate a high degree of vulnerability,” the CMHC writes in the Housing Market Assessment: Fourth Quarter 2017. “Single-detached home sales declined, nudging the market towards balanced conditions, but overheating persisted due to continued elevated sales volumes for apartments and town homes.”

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