More homes began construction in Surrey than Vancouver in 2021

Jan 24 2022, 6:56 pm

The eastward shift in Metro Vancouver’s growth continues to be very evident, as new data shows robust housing developments started in the eastern municipalities in 2021.

In fact, Surrey toppled Vancouver in having the highest number of homes that began construction last year.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) statistics show 5,819 units began construction in Surrey, exceeding Vancouver’s total of 5,464 units by about 6%.

In the entirety of the downtown Vancouver peninsula, just five units began construction in 2021 — all from apartments.

Vancouver saw its most significant housing starts in the southeast sub-area of the city, where there were 1,783 housing starts — 198 single-family houses, 102 townhouses, 10 rowhouses, and 1,473 apartment homes.

The city’s second-highest sub-area was Mount Pleasant/Renfrew Heights, where 1,108 housing starts were experienced, including 99 single-family houses, 112 townhouses, 31 rowhouses, and 866 apartments.

Vancouver’s housing start mix totals for all sub-areas combined across the city are 567 single-family houses, 370 townhouses, 103 rowhouses, and 4,410 apartments.

Surrey’s mix in comparison reached 800 single-family houses, 22 townhouses, 1,097 rowhouses, and 3,900 apartments.

Contrast 2021’s housing starts with the figures recorded for pre-pandemic 2019 when Vancouver came ahead with 6,823 units and Surrey behind with 4,312 units.

This is the second consecutive year the total number of housing starts in Surrey exceeded Vancouver, with 2020’s figures showing 4,123 and 3,625 units, respectively. The last time Surrey’s housing starts toppled those of Vancouver was a four consecutive year period from 2006 to 2009.

Surrey’s total gains ahead of Vancouver in 2021 largely came from a 63% surge in the number of apartment units that began construction compared to 2019. As well, Vancouver saw major drops in all segments, especially in single-family houses and apartments.

But Vancouver led the region in 2021, beginning construction on 2,733 purpose-built market rental housing units — well above Surrey’s 1,762 units.

Regional housing trends that began in 2020 continued throughout 2021, with a growing number of urban dwellers leaving the urban core of Vancouver for suburban cities such as Surrey and Langley, where homes are comparably more affordable and spacious.

Newly released population estimates by Statistics Canada show the outflow patterns.

Vancouver’s population dropped from 700,015 in 2020 to 693,235 in 2021 — an overall loss of 6,780 residents in one year.

On the other hand, Surrey saw a net gain of more than 13,000 additional residents, which increased its population to 614,646. The gains experienced by Surrey led all BC jurisdictions.

Neighbouring Langley also saw an uptick, rising by 4,702 residents for a population of 166,400.

Total housing starts activity within the University Endowment Lands (University of British Columbia) continue to be highly depressed, with just 110 units — almost entirely apartments — recorded in 2021. This is down from 638 units in 2019.

Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver

Burnaby saw 3,875 housing starts in 2021, falling behind its total of 4,411 units in 2019. The vast majority of Burnaby’s figure came from apartments, with 3,615 units of this type beginning construction last year, including 2,514 units within North Burnaby/Brentwood. Just 277 of these units were rentals.

Big gains were seen in New Westminster, where housing starts in 2021 went up by nearly eightfold compared to 2019. New Westminster saw 1,363 homes begin construction, including 56 single-family houses, 24 townhouses, 65 rowhouses, and 1,218 apartments.

The municipalities of Langley and Langley Township saw a combined total of 2,067 units begin construction, entailing 367 single-family houses, 46 townhouses, 741 rowhouses, and 913 apartments. This is below 2019’s total of 2,561 units, with a major drop in apartments partially offset by a sizeable increase in rowhouses in 2021.

The Tri-Cities — Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody combined — saw 3,099 housing starts in 2021, representing a slight increase over 2019. Last year’s housing start mix in the Tri-Cities was roughly proportional to two years ago, with apartments continuing their strong lead of 2,537 units in 2021.

Housing starts across all three North Shore jurisdictions — North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, and West Vancouver — were lower in 2021 than two years ago.

Adding it all up

Metro Vancouver ended 2021 with a combined total of 26,013 housing starts, including 3,015 single-family houses, 648 townhouses, 2,903 rowhouses, and 19,447 apartments. Nearly 26% of the region’s total count, or 6,683 units, were rentals.

This was the region’s fourth-highest year on record for housing starts, behind 2019’s all-time record of 28,141 units, as well as the 27,914 units in 2016 and 26,204 units in 2017.

During the full-blown pandemic year of 2020, Metro Vancouver’s housing starts dropped to 22,371, which was the lowest figure since 2015.

Here is a full breakdown of Metro Vancouver’s housing starts in 2021:

  • Vancouver: 5,464 units
    • Single-family dwellings: 567
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 370
    • Rowhouses: 103
    • Apartments: 4,410
  • Surrey: 5,819
    • Single-family dwellings: 800
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 22
    • Rowhouses: 1,097
    • Apartments: 3,900
  • UBC/University Endowment Lands: 116
    • Single-family dwellings: 6
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 0
    • Rowhouses: 0
    • Apartments: 110
  • Burnaby: 3,875
    • Single-family dwellings: 177
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 38
    • Rowhouses: 45
    • Apartments: 3,615
  • New Westminster: 1,363
    • Single-family dwellings: 56
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 24
    • Rowhouses: 65
    • Apartments: 1,218
  • Richmond: 1,528
    • Single-family dwellings: 207
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 46
    • Rowhouses: 165
    • Apartments: 1,110
  • Langley (City and District combined): 2,067
    • Single-family dwellings: 367
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 46
    • Rowhouses: 741
    • Apartments: 913
  • Delta: 604
    • Single-family dwellings: 199
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 12
    • Rowhouses: 162
    • Apartments: 231
  • White Rock: 234
    • Single-family dwellings: 31
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 0
    • Rowhouses: 0
    • Apartments: 203
  • North Vancouver City: 510
    • Single-family dwellings: 39
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 24
    • Rowhouses: 7
    • Apartments: 438
  • North Vancouver District: 427
    • Single-family dwellings: 62
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 0
    • Rowhouses: 17
    • Apartments: 348
  • West Vancouver: 123
    • Single-family dwellings: 85
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 6
    • Rowhouses: 10
    • Apartments: 222
  • Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam & Port Moody): 3,099
    • Single-family dwellings: 208
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 22
    • Rowhouses: 332
    • Apartments: 2,537
  • Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows: 784
    • Single-family dwellings: 211
    • Semi-detached dwellings: 36
    • Rowhouses: 150
    • Apartments: 387

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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