UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

British Columbia housing supply : an examination of the record Bynoe, Robert William Bruce

Abstract

New record levels of dwelling unit starts were experienced within British Columbia in each of the years 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973. Residential construction starts were at record levels until the downturn in the World and Provincial economies in 1974 reduced the level of residential construction activity. Paradoxically, even though residential construction has been at record levels, much attention has been given to claims that British Columbia has been experiencing a "housing crisis" - a shortage of housing supply. In light of the concern over the possible existence of a housing crisis within British Columbia, this thesis examined the housing stock and the record of the housing supply process in British Columbia in an attempt to answer the questions - Is there a crisis in supply? Is there a housing supply shortage? If so, how did it develop? The problem was attacked through an examination of changes in the housing stock and the housing supply process within the Province over the period 1961 to 1974. The bulk of the data for the study was obtained from the 1971 Census of Canada's statistics on housing, 1961 to 1971. Information relating to housing construction over the period subsequent to the Census was also obtained from the Regional Statistician of the Central and Housing Corporation. Over the period 1961 to 1971 the housing stock of British Columbia grew 45.3 percent, far outpacing population growth of 31.1 percent during the same period. During the decade, housing conditions improved tremendously as the average number of rooms per dwelling increased; the average number of bedrooms per dwelling increased; the average number of persons per household declined; and the number of two family households declined. Housing conditions could not have improved if there had been a breakdown in the housing supply process. Between 1971 and 1974 new record levels of housing construction were experienced in 1971, 1972 and 1973. In light of the improving conditions of the Provincial housing stock, it would appear that, in aggregate, the housing supply process has been functioning adequately. The construction of single-detached dwelling units more than doubled between 1966 and 1973 and the construction of semi-detached units and row housing units has also been at high levels in recent years. The only section of the housing market that is suffering from shortage of supply is the rental sector. Apartment construction in British Columbia reached its peak in 1969 and has since fallen. In June 1974 a vacancy rate of only 0.2 percent was experienced in Metropolitan Vancouver. The shortage of rental accommodation has been caused by a great increase in the demand for rental accommodation, concurrent with a downturn in rental apartment construction due to the reduced attractiveness of investment in rental apartments. Investment in apartment construction has become unattractive as a result of growing landlord tenant conflicts, changes in Income Tax Legislation, citizen opposition to apartment development, and Provincial rent control legislation. The shortage of rental apartment units will only be eliminated if apartment construction again becomes attractive to investors. What is needed is an elimination of all Rent Control Legislation and an acceptance, by all levels of Government, of a commitment to encourage, not discourage, housing development of all forms.

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