B.C.’s suburbs are no longer affordability havens

A new housing study has found that cheaper suburbs across the province are disappearing

B.C.’s suburbs are no longer affordability havens
A recently released report by a Vancouver credit union stated that would-be home buyers on British Columbia’s southern coast have no more recourse in the region’s suburbs when it comes to lower-cost housing.

Vancity tracked the markets in 30 municipalities in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria over a 12-month period that ended on February 28, calculating the median price of housing in each community and comparing that with the median income of residents.

Vancouver became only marginally less affordable over the period, but Vancity noted that the gap between the cost of housing and the median income in the period covered widened in the suburban North Vancouver District, where housing affordability dropped almost 38 per cent.

The Victoria suburb of Oak Bay and the districts of Squamish and Mission, both more than 60 kilometres from Vancouver, also became significantly less affordable, The Canadian Press reported.

The report identified a few pockets where homes are considered affordable for buyers. Among these were Chilliwack and Sooke, where buyers must commit between 24 and 35 per cent of their monthly income to pay for mortgages.

“Buyers looking for affordable housing options used to be able to look to municipalities around Vancouver to find affordable options,” Vancity senior mortgage development manager Ryan McKinley said. “While pockets of affordability still exist, they are disappearing as prices in the Fraser Valley and other parts of B.C. continue to rise.”

The study encouraged would-be buyers to examine the cost of ownership and consider housing co-operatives or co-ownership rather than purchasing and cutting into the money they need to pay down debt or manage other living expenses.

It also petitioned the provincial government to encourage every municipality to develop an affordable housing plan, and asked the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. to look at doubling the density of affordable housing properties it has financed in the past.