Monday, February 22, 2021

Accountants association warns of housing pressures for Northwest

Housing starts, like this property on 11th Avenue East
have been few and far between in Prince Rupert in
recent years

With Prince Rupert City Council set to put some attention towards housing themes tonight, and prepare to review a report on the development of an Interim Housing strategy for the community, they want to take a glance at a report from the provinces Chartered Accountants which highlights some of the current challenges for housing in the region.

The study from Chartered Professional Accountant of British Columbia has offered up a warning that housing affordability in Northwest BC may get much worse before it gets better, that as the association makes note of a very low level of housing starts in Prince Rupert and Terrace with the decline of housing construction noted as at 40 percent for 2020, compared to statistics from the year before.

“In a year of great economic uncertainty, the number of housing starts declined in the region’s two largest municipalities, Terrace and Prince Rupert,This was led by a decline in the number of attached starts, with no new units started through all of 2020.” -- Jeanne MacNeil, CPA, CA, partner at Edmison Mehr Chartered Professional Accountants.

The report provides a pretty stark look at the level of housing starts in Prince Rupert, which saw only eight housing starts last year, something that won't put much of a dent into the current shortage of affordable and suitable accommodation for those in need of housing.

Overall, 42 units began construction in 2020 in Prince Rupert and Terrace, down from the 71 units started in 2019. Breaking it down by municipality, there were 34 housing starts in Terrace in 2020, down from 51 in 2019; and 8 for Prince Rupert, down from 20. 

The region has seen the number of attached starts, which include units such as condos, apartments, and townhomes, erode to zero in 2020 from 20 in 2019 and 135 in 2018.

Of the notes on condominium, apartments and townhomes, those for the most part are more Terrace based, with few of those elements for housing options to be established in Prince Rupert in recent years.

Ms. MacNeil also notes how the current scarcity of housing will put more pressure affordability in both the Terrace and Prince Rupert areas.

“The low level of starts is particularly worrying as housing demand has been very strong recently in many of the region’s municipalities and prices have been on the rise. This situation will put significant pressure on housing affordability in the region. 

However, while housing starts were low in 2020, major project capital investment continues to grow in Northwest B.C. Going forward, mega projects such as LNG Canada should help attract more housing developments and drive our economic recovery.”

The report also takes note of the ongoing economic activity in the northwest and how that growth will continue to put pressures on the housing markets of the communities in the region.

You can review the full report here.

For more information on Housing in the Northwest see our archive page here, a more localized overview specific to Prince Rupert can be explored here.

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