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EDITORIAL: Construction increases, but housing costs remain high

While construction activity is increasing, housing costs in B.C. remain expensive
Construction is happening, but the need for additional housing is still a reality in communities across British Columbia. (Black Press file photo)

The most recent provincial building permit statistics show a lot of new construction is happening in British Columbia.

In April 2024, the value of building permits in the province rose by 81.8 per cent compared to March. This is significantly higher than Canada’s overall increase of 20.5 per cent.

Building permits in B.C. totalled $3.13 billion in April, up from $1.4 billion in March, and created 7,521 residential units. The number of units under construction is also a significant increase. Most of the new residential units under construction now are multi-residential units.

The province has been working to address housing supply and housing affordability.

Earlier this year, the province recorded a net loss of people in inter-provincial migration. Housing affordability is not necessarily the sole reason for this trend, but it is certainly a factor, especially when other parts of the country appear more affordable than B.C.

The new construction figures show there is an effort being made to increase the supply. If the supply increases, the result should be an eventual marketplace adjustment.

At present, however, housing remains expensive throughout British Columbia.

According to the B.C. Real Estate Association, the average price in April 2024 was $1,006,248 province-wide, an increase of 1.4 per cent from one year earlier.

In the Okanagan Valley, the average price was $749,445, an increase of 0.7 per cent, while the Kootenay region saw housing prices rise by 14.2 per cent.

There was no area of the province to experience a decline in housing prices.

The measures taken by the provincial government to address the present housing challenges will not have instant results. It will take time before the housing supply increases and prices come more closely in line with household incomes. 

The provincial measures are having an effect on new residential construction and the supply of dwelling units. This is needed. However, housing will remain a concern until prices are seen as unaffordable.

— Black Press