Vancouver has 10,800 empty homes, mostly apartments: study

Vancouver's rate of vacant homes hasn't changed in more than a decade and is similar to many other Canadian cities, according to a new study.

See Full Article

The landmark research was performed by city staff and the software company Ecotagious Inc. by looking at the electricity consumption of 225,000 homes in Vancouver over 12 years.

The effort was undertaken in response to growing public concern that vacant homes were contributing to the city's red-hot housing market and leaving many neighbourhoods devoid of inhabitants.

The study, which was presented to city council Tuesday, found that the city's residential vacancy rate was 4.9 per cent in 2002 and 4.8 per cent in 2014. However, the total amount of empty units jumped from 8,400 to 10,800 because of overall growth in the amount of housing.

"The percentage is flat but the numbers are going up," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on Tuesday.

"That's a lot of empty homes when we have very low vacancy rates."

Robertson said the number is still a cause for concern because of the housing crunch facing in the city. He added these vacant properties could be opened up as rentals for people looking for a place to live.

"We know that there are thousands of units of empty homes that potentially could be available for rental, when we have one of the tightest rental markets in the world," said Robertson.

"This could be a great new supply of housing -- thousands of units that could be available and also generate revenue for their owners."

In 2014, Ninety per cent of the empty homes were apartments. Meanwhile, rental apartments had a vacancy rate of nearly zero and condos that were owned and not available for rent had a 12.5 per cent vacancy rate.

Robertson admitted the city has overemphasized condo development in the past.

"Over the past several decades, we've focussed as a city on building too many condos," he said.

In contrast, single-family and duplex housing units show vacancy rates of one per cent between 2002 and 2014.

Robertson is calling on the province to force strata developments -- where individuals own their personal lots and co-operatively own the building -- to allow rentals, as many currently do not.

City council also unanimously passed a motion for Robertson to reiterate a request to B.C. Premier Christy Clark made last year for municipalities to have the legal faculties to track property ownership and ensure timely occupancy of vacant homes.

The motion also asked staff for recommendations, based on consultations with experts and residents, on policies and regulations that could be used to curb vacancies.

Clark said the provincial government is looking into a solution and believes there should be more rental options available.

"We need to be partners in it, and we're working with the City of Vancouver to figure out exactly the best way to address this," she said.

Clark is considering a number of options, including additional taxes on vacant properties.

The report also effectively puts to rest the notion that investors, who are buying properties and leaving them vacant, are to blame for high prices and low supply.

City housing planner Matthew Bourke told The Canadian Press that there doesn't appear to be a correlation between empty homes and housing prices, since the vacancy rate remained stable while prices shot up.

Coun. Kerry Jang also said the report likely dispels the growing sentiment that foreign investors are buying up local property and leaving it vacant.

"The myth that foreign investors are parking their money here, it doesn't seem to hold water right now," said Jang.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Scott Roberts and files from The Canadian Press



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Polygamous leader took 15-year-old girl across border for sex, B.C. Crown says

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - A special prosecutor has urged British Columbia's Court of Appeal to overturn the acquittal of a polygamous leader who was accused of taking a 15-year-old girl across the border for a sexual purpose. Source
  • Mexico opium poppy growers turning to marijuana

    World News CTV News
    TENANTLA, Mexico - Opium poppy growers in southern Mexico who helped fuel the U.S. heroin epidemic say prices for their product have been driven so low - apparently by the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl - that they are turning in desperation back to another crop they know well: marijuana. Source
  • Officials look to map out details of North, South Korean family reunions

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - North and South Korean officials met Friday to map out details for what would be a highly emotional reunion of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War. A look at key issues: Source
  • Teepee back up at Sask. Legislature 3 days after camp members arrested by police

    Canada News CBC News
    A teepee was re-erected in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature after people were made to take it down by park and provincial authorities earlier this week. Le tipi est de retour au parc Wascana. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rcsk?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#rcsk</a> <a href="https://t.co/CbVMpYSKa5">pic.twitter.com/CbVMpYSKa5</a>&mdash;@MirianeDL Source
  • 2 Koreas meet to arrange reunions of war-split families

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North and South Korean officials are meeting to arrange the first reunions in three years between families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War. Friday's meeting at the North's Diamond Mountain resort comes as the rivals take reconciliation steps amid a diplomatic push to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Source
  • Fake police arrest and force woman to deposit cash in latest CRA scam

    Canada News CTV News
    Vancouver police say there's a new twist on a Canada Revenue Agency scam they've been warning the public about and the swindle involves being arrested. Police say a 58-year-old woman received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from someone claiming to be from the agency, who said she owed $6,000 in taxes and there was a warrant for her arrest. Source
  • Pope: Countries should take in as many refugees as they can

    World News CTV News
    Pope Francis urged nations Thursday to take in as many refugees as they can integrate into their societies, but also to invest in places like Africa so migrants won't turn to human traffickers to reach countries that can offer a better life. Source
  • Saudi women gain right to drive, but some who fought for change still detained

    World News CTV News
    On June 24, Saudi Arabia will lift its ban on women drivers after years of protests. Paul Workman is reporting from Riyadh, where preparations for the change are underway. ---- RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- “We want to drive. Source
  • De-radicalization expert urges authorities to charge Canadian former ISIS fighter

    Canada News CBC News
    De-radicalization expert Mubin Shaikh is urging Canadian authorities to attempt to prosecute former Canadian ISIS fighter Huzaifa, a man he said he has personally counselled since his return to Canada more than two years ago. "Let's not be risk averse. Source
  • Why lawyers appealed the La Loche shooter's sentencing as an adult

    Canada News CBC News
    The man convicted of the 2016 mass shooting in La Loche, Sask., is appealing his adult sentence — and we now know why. The man, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, was given a life sentence with no chance for parole for 10 years last month, after a judge decided he should be sentenced as an adult. Source