Analysis: BC housing at the mercy of inter-provincial migration

More than 23,000 people moved into the province in the last quarter alone

Analysis: BC housing at the mercy of inter-provincial migration

Pressure on British Columbia’s scarce housing supply is mounting due to Canadians migrating from other provinces, according to industry observers.

New statistics for the province released by showed that the average monthly rent in Vancouver has already exceeded $2,200 for one-bedroom units. Victoria also saw a monthly average of more than $1,600 for the same asset class.

To compare, in markets such as Calgary, renters shell out an average of just $1,300 per month for one-bedroom units.

Provincial data showed that in the last financial quarter alone, more than 18,000 people moved to BC from other countries, and 5,000 from other provinces, particularly Alberta and Ontario.

Read more: Is the urban exodus about to slow down?

“This was a 30-year high in migration from other provinces and other countries, at the same time as we had a 30-year low in the number of listings for real estate,” said David Eby, the province’s minister responsible for housing.

Sub-1% vacancy rates in most of BC’s urban markets are also exacerbating the spike in average rent rates, Eby told CBC News.

“So this is a huge amount of pressure,” Eby said.

A potential avenue for unlocking new supply is boosting the density of single-family home neighbourhoods in major urban areas, according to Leo Spalteholz of House Hunt Victoria.

While this measure will be met with strong opposition from existing residents, Spalteholz said that such an approach has the advantage of being actionable within a reasonable timeframe – enough to stave off the worst of the deterioration in rental affordability, perhaps.

“What we have to accept is that change is inevitable,” Spalteholz said. “And if we plan for it in advance, and equally distribute it throughout the region, that could make our region better in terms of creating more affordable, more inclusive communities.”