Builders busy despite lack of land in Kamloops

By Jill Sperling
July 28, 2016 - 11:28am Updated: July 28, 2016 - 5:25pm

KAMLOOPS — The president of the Central Interior chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association says builders are busy in Kamloops. 

Matt McCurrach says it's been approximately 8 years since they've seen this kind of uptick in the market. 

"As an industry we're quite happy to finally see some progress and the demand is there and we're starting to see people coming up from the coast," McCurrach said. "It's a good time to be in building."

McCurrach says there is a lack of developable land in Kamloops, which can create a challenge to builders and increase the costs of new homes. 

"The challenges are there, but there still is land to build on," McCurrach said. "What you're going to start seeing more and more is densifying. You're going to start seeing more duplexes, more apartment/condo style buildings, there's going to be a focus on that versus the sprawl."

According to statistics from the City of Kamloops, that trend is already apparent. 

There have been 26 building permits issued for duplexes from January to June, compared to only four last year, and 151 multi-family apartment permits issued this year compared to 21 last year.

However, there have only been 64 single family dwelling permits issued this year, which is 26 fewer than the same time period last year. 

Construction value is down by nearly $20 million for the year, but construction value of June 2016 has surpassed the previous June by nearly $14 million. 

Despite an increase in building permits issued in the month of June, building starts were actually down from 39 last June to 31 this June. 

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Senior Market Analyst, Taylor Pardy says the slight decrease isn't alarming. 

"Generally when you're looking at sort of the month over month stats they're not really indicative of a trend," Pardy said. "So in terms of trying to get at what the trend is we like to look at the year-to-date stats."

The year-to-date housing starts show an increase from 207 new builds last year to 233 this year - numbers boosted by a large multi-family project that started in March. 

Pardy says multi-family dwellings are driving the increase.

"Inventories of unsold apartment condominiums on the market has generally been declining since 2014, and so builders may be wanting to bring on some new supply in the first six months of 2016," Pardy said.

He forecasts the demand for new housing in Kamloops will remain steady through 2016.

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