(File photo courtesy CBC)
The vacancy rate for independent living spaces at seniors’ residence across B.C. increased for the first time since 2012, and it ticked up overall on Vancouver Island as well.
The annual Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) survey in February and March, however, found the vacancy rate dropped for the Central Island region, which includes the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Parksville/Qualicum.
The independent living spaces vacancy rate on the Island increased as whole from 3.3 per cent in 2018 to 5.0 per cent in 2019, including a jump of nearly three per cent to 6.5 per cent for Metro Victoria and the Gulf Islands.
Leading the vacancy increase is West Shore, which has a 21.5 per cent vacancy rate for independent living spaces this year, compared to 0.5 per cent at the same time in 2018.
For the central region, the report found the vacancy rate dropped a half-point to 2.3 per cent in 2019, with an eight-tenths drop in Nanaimo at 2.2 per cent.
For the Courtenay/North Island/Central Coast region, CMHC says the vacancy rate has climbed to 6.2 per cent from 4.1 per cent in 2018.
The CMHC says the survey looks at standard and non-standard spaces.
Standard spaces refers to those occupied by a resident that pays market rent and does not receive 1.5 or more hours of care per day, and non-standard spaces are residents who get at least 1.5 hours of high-level care per day, including for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and reduced mobility.
The Vancouver Island/Central Coast region saw the largest decline for heavy care space vacancy from 3.2 per cent in 2018 to 0.8 per cent.
Metro Victoria and the Gulf Islands saw a drop from 6.3 per cent to 1.2 per cent year-over-year for heavy care spaces, which usually includes amenities in monthly rent such as meal costs, utilities, and on-site medical care.
The average rent for these spots on the Island has come down in 2019 from $6,864 last year to $6,417 per month this year.
The CMHC says 324 new living spaces have been added across B.C. in 2019, with 40 per cent of those on Vancouver Island/Central Coast region.
The vacancy rate for low-rent spaces less than $1,900 is up on Vancouver Island by three-tenths to 1.1 per cent, and for Metro Victoria, that number is up to 2.9 per cent from 0.7 per cent in 2018.
The vacancy rate overall in B.C. for seniors’ independent living increased to 4.2 per cent in 2019 from 3.0 per cent in 2018.