WATCH: Business is booming in B.C.’s construction industry and Greater Victoria is no exception, as housing starts hit historic highs. Tess van Straaten reports.
Business is booming in B.C.’s construction industry and Greater Victoria is no exception, as new home and condo construction reaches record levels.
“It’s been slowly building up to this and it couldn’t be better for carpenters,” says framer Matthew Urquhart, who’s been in the industry for 15 years.
Urquhart is one of many skilled trades forced to go to Alberta over the years and he couldn’t be happier to be back.
“It’s awesome that it’s so busy here,” Urquhart says. “I’ve had to move my family to Alberta two different times in the last 15 years to follow where the money is, unfortunately.”
But now, British Columbia is where the money is and building demand is sky-rocketing.
The CEO of Vancouver Island’s Construction Association says it’s the busiest he’s seen it in his four decades in the industry.
“The industry if firing on all cylinders, which means all sectors — residential and non-residential is extremely busy,” Greg Baynton told CHEK News.
The latest numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show housing starts in June at their highest level since 1990.
Year-to-date, Metro Vancouver’s seen a 49 per cent increase since 2015 while Greater Victoria has gad a staggering 61.5 per cent spike.
“B.C. economically is the darling in Canada so our economic outlook is looking very strong so we’ve got lots of in-migration, low interest rates, more demand than there is inventory right now,” Baynton explains.
High real estate prices, low inventory and lack of rentals fueling new construction boom
With real estate prices so high and a lack of homes for sale, housing inventory is low.
Vacancy rates are also very low and it’s all fueling the demand — demand that’s projected to continue for at least a couple years.
The biggest issue now — a shortage of skilled workers.
“I’m still getting job offers all the time,” Urquhart says. “I’m happy where I am but I’m still getting calls and emails left right and centre and I’m having to turn people down.”
The downturn in the Alberta economy has led to an influx of workers here and it’s brought some relief to the trades shortage but experts say it’s by no means a silver bullet.
As a result, the Vancouver Island Construction Association expects the next couple of years will be very challenging for the construction industry.