It seems this issue isn't isolated to Victoria. A great article in the Straight highlights the Vancouver situation:
My only issue with this report is the 2.2 people per unit average. I find it hardly likely that the number is 2.2; I'd bet it's closer to 1.7 as I doubt there are anywhere near as many 3 person (2 adult + child) households as there are 1 person. Anyway. It's telling non? When you go back over the historical time frame of 15 years and you offset the current influx of people with the 7-9 years of out-migration in the 90s, you get less than 1% growth in total, yet you see 5-6% (my guesstimate) growth in units available.
- For the 15 years between 1991 and 2006, the city grew by about 106,000 people.
- The city also grew by about 69,000 housing units.
- At 2.2 people per unit, that should have accommodated 151,800 more people, which could have created the conditions for a housing glut and falling housing prices.
- Instead, housing prices doubled over that time period.
- In 2006, there were 4,736 new housing units completed in Vancouver–the most in a single year since 1995.
- The vast majority of those were in eastern downtown and the East Side.
- Strathcona, Kitsilano, and Kerrisdale received the fewest number of new housing units.
- In 2007, 3,294 new condo units will have been completed in downtown alone.
Sources: City of Vancouver Housing Centre; Statistics Canada; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Perhaps this is the key information for Vancouver:
"Empty housing stock is very difficult to estimate," he said. "BC Stats has previously undertaken some analysis based on hydro usage, which indicated that four percent of all downtown apartments were identified as unoccupied in 2003, with eight to nine percent of condo apartments included in that number." In addition, he said, the 2001 census found that 2,600 downtown apartments were unoccupied.So much for 0.5% vacancy rates, eh? When the market shows signs of cracking, think you that those owners of the empty places will be keen to hold onto a losing "investment?" Victoria is in the same boat, to a lesser scale, but I'd say the percentages of vacant properties are likely higher here.
As an aside: I haven't been around much lately I know. I actually have, but just not posting. I had let this blog get the better of some of my emotional common sense and decided a little break was necessary. I appreciate the discussion that happens here. When it tapers off as it had over the past month or two, I take it as a sign that my rants are not doing the readers, or me, any service. I'm not yet sure if the break is over.