Fact Checking Vancouver Housing Growth Claims

A press release by the new Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods including in a post on Frances Bula’ s blog claims that housing growth rates are five times greater than those committed to in the Regional Growth Strategy.

Specifically, they state that:

However, since 2011, the city has already proposed or approved sufficient new housing to accommodate 43,000 people. In just two years, this planned housing satisfies 28% of the growth the city projects being required over the next 35 years.

Unfortunately, they didn’t say how they arrived at 43,000 or exactly what the number represents. As it seems rather high, I thought I’d some research.

The Regional Growth Strategy Population, Dwelling Unit and Employment Projections states that in the City of Vancouver, the number of dwellings in 2006 was 264,500 while the target for 2021 is 306,700 representing an average increase of 2,813 units per year.

2010 2011 2012 Average
Housing Starts 4,075 3,830 5,498 4467
Demolitions 874 999 1,082 985
Net New Dwellings 3,201 2,831 4,416 3,483

As shown in the table above, the average net new dwellings a year for the last three years is 3,483 units, a whole 24% above the target of 2,813. As some of the demolitions may be multi-family housing, the number of net new units might even be smaller. No where even close to five times as claimed by Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods. Kind of too bad though. The city would become much more affordable.

Urban Futures using the 2011 Census data, found that the number of dwellings increased by 11,195 between 2006 and 2011, an average of 2,239 units per year, 574 per year less than the RGS target. That would bring the amount below the target to 2,871 over those five years. Assuming these numbers are even comparable, even with being 24% over the target for 2010-2012, we would still 2,008 under the RGS target by the end of 2012. Maybe more as I’m really starting to suspect that the demolition numbers do not include the number of units in multi family housing torn down.

jakking explains how they arrived at the 43,000 in the comments below. At this point, I’m still really not convinced that it is valid evidence that development of new homes is proceeding too fast. Now, since there are many neighbourhoods where little or no development is taking places, some neighbourhoods are likely experiencing more than their fair share of growth. It is only fair that low growth neighbourhoods adopt new plans so new homes accommodating people with a diversity of income levels are built across the city.

Updated to correct 2010 housing starts to 4,075 and average to 3,483; added reference to jakking comments; and added Urban Futures Census.

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7 thoughts on “Fact Checking Vancouver Housing Growth Claims

  1. According to Matt Shillito, Asst Dir Planning for CoV, the City approved 11,282 units in 2011-2013. He also states they have proposals for an additional 10,368 units. That totals 21,650 units. At a very conservative two persons per unit, that comes to 43,000 people — exactly as stated in the release.

    • And the proposals, if they are approved and built, will be in future years, not 2011-2013. The claim that the growth rate is five times the target is incorrect.

      • The statement that approved and proposed is five times the rate is absolutely accurate and simply cannot be denied. At this rate, by 2019 the entire projection will be built and/or proposed — two decades in advance.

      • Between 800 and 1000 homes get demolished per year, not all approved will get built and not all proposed will get approved. And proposed should be account for in the year that they are built in, not the past two years.

        Thus your number is likely way off.

        Anyway, ask the city what their projections are for net new dwellings in the coming years. I expect that they will be close to the RGS projections.

    • And 2 persons per unit is not conservative. According to the RGS, there are projected to 42,200 new dwellings and 71,800 new people between 2006 and 2021, that is 1.7 people per unit. Between 2006 and 2041, there are projected to be 75,000 more units and 138,800 more people, that is 1.85 per unit.

      It is worth checking your numbers carefully before issuing the press release.

    • Thanks for catching that! It looks like I accidentally copied the Surrey number instead of the Vancouver one. I’ve updated the post to reflect that change. While the results do change somewhat, it does not change my conclusion that their claim is really exaggerated.

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