CPABC: Northwest B.C.’s growing population and strong demand pushing housing costs to new highs

SMITHERS, British Columbia, June 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to BC Check-Up: Live, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on demographic and affordability trends across the province, Northwest B.C.’s population growth of 721 residents in 2020 was the highest in the past two decades, bringing the total population to 99,758 residents.

“Northwest B.C.’s economic opportunities and robust employment opportunities attracted a growing number of residents in recent years,” said Jeanne MacNeil, CPA, CA, partner at Edmison Mehr Chartered Professional Accountants. “In fact, the region was the only in the province to see an increase in population growth rate in 2020 compared to 2019, showcasing its economic resilience against the impact of the pandemic.”

In 2020, the region’s population growth came from a fairly even mix of international migrants, interprovincial migrants, and natural growth (births minus mortalities). However, the pace of population growth was moderated by an outflow of 265 residents relocating to other parts in the province.

“It’s encouraging to see the region attract more residents in recent years,” continued MacNeil. “Going forward, we will need to attract more migrants to support our growing economy and aging population. The average age across Northwest B.C. was 40.5 in 2020, up 0.8 years since 2016, and those aged 65 and older made up 16.6 per cent of our population, up 2.3 percentage points from 2016.”

A growing population also means increasing demand for housing, and supply has not kept up. In the region’s two largest municipalities, Prince Rupert and Terrace, just 374 residential units were completed over the past five years. This has been one contributing factor to significant housing price increases across the region.

In 2020, the average assessed property value was up significantly in the region’s largest municipalities (compared to in 2019):

  • Kitimat: $348,994 (up 38.0 per cent)
  • Terrace: $377,938 (up 20.4 per cent)
  • Smithers: $308,690 (up 9.8 per cent)
  • Prince Rupert: $290,961 (up 2.9 per cent)

“Northwest B.C. has experienced rising housing and rental prices as we attract a greater number of new residents,” concluded MacNeil. “This trend has only escalated in the latter half of 2020 and into this year. The rapid increase puts significant pressure on both current and future residents. As we continue to grow our region, it will be important to find ways to improve the level of housing supply.”

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About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 37,000 CPA members and 5,500 CPA candidates and students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.


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