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

  • Pedophile stopped at Sydney Airport under anti-sex tourism law

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia - A convicted child molester was prevented from flying overseas from Sydney Airport on Wednesday under new laws aimed at keeping Australian pedophiles from travelling to Southeast Asia for sex tourism. Laws that took effect on Wednesday prevent 20,000 convicted pedophiles listed on the Australian child sex offender register from leaving the country except for specific purposes approved by law enforcement agencies. Source
  • UN envoy says 'door ajar' to negotiated North Korea solution

    World News CBC News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korean officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Assault victim says ex-boyfriend's discharge tells attackers 'He can get away with it'

    Canada News CTV News
    A Newfoundland woman who was beaten by her ex-boyfriend says a judge’s decision to grant a discharge sends a clear message to attackers that “you can do whatever you want as long as you’re going to university at some point. Source
  • North Koreans say it's important to prevent war: UN official

    World News CTV News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korea officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Sold North Korean brides face hard choices in China

    World News CTV News
    WESTERN LIAONING PROVINCE, China -- The North Korean woman drives a motorbike slowly down a narrow lane shaded by tall corn to the farmhouse where she lives with the disabled Chinese man who bought her. Source
  • Wynne says marijuana revenue deal with feds means money for municipalities

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Municipalities can begin discussions with Ontario over costs associated with legalized marijuana in light of a new tax revenue-sharing agreement between the provinces and federal government, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday. Wynne's comments come after Ottawa agreed Monday to give provinces and territories a 75 per cent share of federal excise tax revenues from the sale of legalized pot. Source
  • B.C. premier says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- Premier John Horgan says marijuana users in British Columbia could face the same rules as those who smoke tobacco in public. Horgan says his government is still formulating its marijuana policy, but following bylaws that prohibit people from smoking near buildings or public spaces is under consideration. Source
  • 25,700 college students get refund after strike, according to early numbers

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Nearly 25,700 full-time Ontario college students received tuition refunds after a five-week strike derailed their semester. Ontario's Ministry of Advanced Education confirmed Tuesday that 10.3 per cent of Ontario's roughly 250,000 full-time college students asked for, and received, their money back after the strike. Source
  • Man who tricked teen by pretending to be Miley Cyrus' brother gets 6 years prison

    World News CTV News
    CONCORD, N.H. -- Authorities say a New Hampshire man who pretended to be Miley Cyrus' brother to entice a 14-year-old boy to send him sexually explicit photos and videos online has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison. Source
  • Iraq PM warns Islamic State might erupt again somewhere else

    World News CTV News
    PARIS - Three days after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, Iraq's prime minister warns that the group's extremists might "erupt again somewhere else" without international co-operation in combatting the militants. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday that "we have managed to break them" in Iraq, but added that it's a worry for everyone that IS has "this unfortunate ability to recruit young people very quickly. Source