B.C. shift from single-family homes continues: census

Residents are moving to large apartment buildings and duplexes, Stats Can figures show

The proportion of B.C. residents living in detached homes is continuing to shrink, according to Stats Canada numbers released Tuesday.

In 2016, 44.1 per cent of British Columbians lived in single-family homes, down from 47.7 per cent in 2011 and 49 per cent in 2006. The number of people living in multi-family dwellings grew to make up for it; however, most of the growth was found in apartments with more than five storeys and in duplexes. The proportion of B.C. residents living in smaller apartments stayed stagnant, as did single-attached houses, mobile homes, semi-detached houses and row houses.

READ: Lower Mainland residents shift to condos, duplexes, says 2016 census

Outside of the Lower Mainalnd, that trend was still the most noticeable in major metropolitan areas. Souther Vancouver Island stood out in particular with 68 per cent of dwellings in Victoria, 53 per cent of dwellings in Esquimalt, 43 per cent of dwellings in Duncan and 32 per cent of dwellings in Sidney being multi-family.

Rennie Group senior economist Ryan Berlin said the increases in housing stock south Island is exactly what is driving the region’s population up.

“Look at Langford – they are building, building and building and their population growth is through the roof,” he said. Langford saw a 164 per cent increase in apartments in buildings five storeys and over and a 36 per cent increase in apartments under five storeys.

It’s not a trend that continues up the Island, Berlin noted.

“For the smaller communities that are dotted up the Island, particularly those that are tied to the forestry sector or aquaculture, it’s going to be that resource base that drives their growth prospects,” said Berlin. On the Island, it’s those communities like Port Alberni and Comox where single-family dwellings make up over two-thirds of the housing stock.

The same holds true in the interior. Cities like Terrace, Smithers and even larger ones like Ft. St. John will only continue to retain residents if their industries are strong, Berlin said.

“No one moves to Ft. St. John for lifestyle,” he added.

But the same ‘build it and they will come’ trend that applies to the Victoria area also applies to the Okanagan, said Berlin, especially to the more populated areas like Kelowna and Penticton.

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