Nanaimo sees boost in building permits

NANAIMO – Construction climate in Nanaimo continues upswing in 2017.

An unprecedented number of permits were issued for secondary suites in Nanaimo last year, as the city’s construction climate continues an upswing.

The City of Nanaimo saw more permits for secondary suites than it ever has since the legalization of suites in 2005, with 327 units last year. More than half of new homes also included a mortgage helper, according to building permit statistics from the City of Nanaimo.

Overall, 2016 was considered another strong year in the construction industry by Dale Lindsay, city director of community development.

There were 332 permits issued for single-family homes in 2016, compared to 321 in 2015, and 76 for multi-family apartments and townhouses, up from 68. Residential units in total were up to 517 over 461, although the number of multi-family units dropped slightly, and residential construction value hit $160 million the highest since 2007.

Construction value in total, which also includes commercial, industry and public projects, was $212 million with the largest project being a residential care facility on Twelfth Street for $12 million, followed by apartments on Summerhill Place for $6.6 million.

The year was also a boost to city coffers with $2.3 million collected for building permits in 2016, an increase from $1.96 million in 2015.

“I’d say it was a continued strong year in the construction industry and that we saw higher than average numbers in single-family construction, in total number of units constructed and construction value and growth itself distributed across the community,” said Lindsay, adding that he assumes what’s seen with suites is another category that’s higher than the previous averages. “This is definitely the highest year we’ve had pre-2007 global recession.”

Actual housing starts in the Nanaimo region, which includes Lantzville, also rose to 878 from 850 the year before, according to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, with 433 single-detached homes and 445 multi-family the vast majority being rental apartments.

Eric Bond, CMHC senior market analyst for Victoria and Vancouver Island, said any increase in migration and population growth will play itself out in increased demand for rental accommodation.

He said B.C. has positive inter-provincial and international migration. When people migrate to an area, including Nanaimo, they usually rent before owning a home, he said.

A lot of rental accommodation across Canada was built in the ’70s and ’80s, so there’s a renewal in rental stock, the rental market has been strong in B.C. and Nanaimo and vacancy rates have declined in the last couple of years, promoting new investment, he said.