The 'State of Nanaimo Economy' report shows many residents are just arriving

Average rental prices have risen by about nine percent over the past year, despite moving closer to a healthy vacancy rate for rentals.

Amrit Manhas, Nanaimo's economic development officer, briefed council on the housing market and other economic indicators during his 'State of the Nanaimo Economy' annual report.

Nanaimo's vacancy rate rose from 2.2 per cent to 2.7 per cent in 2023, a record low. Canada enjoys 1.5 percent Nationally.

Manhas said the increase in average rental prices is due to „some landlords passing on their higher mortgage payments to their tenants.”

„[High interest rates] „We've hit BC a little bit harder than other provinces because of the higher housing debt burden, mainly because we have higher home prices,” he told councilors at a meeting on April 22. „We are, in fact, the most expensive province in Canada for real estate right now. .”

The city's annual State of the Nanaimo Economic Report covers housing, population, demographics and employment.

Read more: More people living and working in Nanaimo find state of the economy report

1,170 homes were built around Nanaimo last year, 15 percent less than in 2022. Seventy-eight percent are multi-unit dwellings, such as apartments or condos. Building permits totaled $364.7 million in 2023, down 11 percent from 2022.

Manhas said the city continues to move toward the dense urban landscape envisioned in the city plan.

„Having really high interest rates, it's actually been a very strong year,” he said. „This is the second highest record in terms of building permit values ​​for residential permits.”

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The city's population rose to nearly 107,000 — although he cautioned that population numbers vary by source.

Over the next decade, the highest growth is expected in the 25 to 44 age group, which is expected to grow by 9,500 individuals.

Citywide, there are approximately 45,000 households, with approximately 8,000 living below the poverty line, while 3,751 households earn more than $200,000.

Manhas said the decline in job openings reflects a trend across the province, leading to higher unemployment. The workforce rose 3.3 percent to nearly 53,000; However, the city's unemployment rate grew to 4.8 percent, while the provincial rate remained below 5.5 percent.

The economic development official said one factor contributing to the „economic slowdown” was the completion of major projects across the province, such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion and the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. Another factor was a 16 percent provincial decline in exports, hit by port strikes and weak global demand.

„There is a lot of optimism around critical mineral exploration in British Columbia, an improved outlook for business opportunities in 2024 and the potential to invest in life sciences, clean technology,” Manhaus said. “There are a lot of high-profile sporting events coming to the province of British Columbia, including the Gray Cup later this year, the Invictus Games in 2025 and FIFA. [World] Cup in 2026. „

Mayor Leonard Kroc commented that the data in the report paint a „pretty positive picture of the city.”

Coun. Erin Hemens also said she was struck by the large number of residents and questioned the economic development officer about possible reasons. He believes the demographics are being affected by the influx of young people from both the mainland and Victoria to Manhas, the mainland and Victoria.

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„It's related to the cost of living now, and this group doesn't have an education, they don't pursue higher education, and unfortunately, that puts them in a tough spot,” Manhas said. „Mostly they've been pushed out of the big cities [are] Going to cities like ours, they see strong opportunities to advance by taking courses and things like that.

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