April 30, 2024

Woody Hayes, FCPA, FCA

DUNCAN – According to BC Check-Up: Invest, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on investment trends across the province, there were 2,410 housing units that began construction across the Vancouver Island and Coast region (excluding Greater Victoria).

“New housing construction fell for the second consecutive year,” said Woody Hayes, FCPA, FCA. “The slowdown in activity was particularly pronounced in Nanaimo, where starts fell by more than 50 per cent.”

Of the total, 1,627 were attached units such as condos, townhomes, and apartments, down by 20.1 per cent from 2022. Similarly, the 783 detached starts represented a 17.8 per cent year-over-year decline. In Nanaimo, the region’s largest population centre, starts fell from 1184 in 2022 to 546 in 2023, marking a 53.9 per cent decline.

In February 2024, the cities of Campbell River and Comox were both approved to receive federal funding through the Housing Accelerator Fund, which provides incentive funding to municipalities to help boost the housing supply. As part of the joint application submitted in collaboration with the City of Victoria, Campbell River is set to receive $10 million, and Comox will receive $5 million.

“Increasing the housing supply is a priority to address affordability challenges, but it can be a slow process,” noted Hayes. “It’s good to see municipalities taking steps to remove red tape that has hampered housing development in the past.”

Meanwhile, the value of major projects across the region was $15.8 billion in Q3 2023, down from $17.0 billion from one year earlier. Projects in the proposal stage had an estimated value of $8.6 billion, or 54.4 per cent of the total value.

Since Q3 2022, four projects valued at a combined $1.9 billion started construction, most notably the Jon Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project ($913 million) and the Cowichan District Hospital Replacement ($887 million). Overall, projects under construction accounted for $2.7 billion or 17.3 per cent of the total inventory value, up from $1.1 billion in Q3 2022.

“Getting two larger projects into the construction phase should is positive news as the region navigates a period of slower economic growth,” concluded Hayes. “Looking ahead, it will be important for the region to attract further investment to support a growing population.”

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