February 16, 2022

Duke of Data’s Latest Census Dive Suggests B.C.’s Vacant Homes Regulation Working

Trust the Duke of Data, Simon Fraser University’s  Director of the City Program Andy Yan to be on the pulse of this changing trend.  New data  suggests that those additional civic and provincial rules to ensure housing is occupied and taxed if a secondary home is actually working.

As written by Joanne Lee-Young in the Vancouver Sun, the number of homes that are empty or underused has dropped by ten percent in Vancouver from 2016 to 2021. But surprise! In Toronto, the percentage of empty or secondary homes that are not used has increased by 40 percent.

By looking at “private dwellings occupied by usual residents” on the census Andy Yan extrapolated the number of dwellings that were vacant or did not have “usual” occupants.

And here are the numbers as reported by Ms. Lee-Young:

“In the City of Vancouver over the last five years, there has been a decline of 15 percent from 8.2 per cent to 7 per cent in these empty or occupied by not usual resident dwellings. By the numbers, there’s a 10 per cent drop from 25,502 to 23,011.

“Across Metro Vancouver, the raw numbers declined 8.2 percent from 66,719 to 61,213, while the percentage decreased 15 per cent from 6.5 per cent to 5.5 percent.

During the same period in Toronto there has been a 33 per cent increase from 5.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent in these empty or occupied by not usual resident dwellings. The shift has been a 40 per cent increase from 66,128 to 92,346 units. For the census metropolitan area of Toronto, the shift has been a 33 per cent increase from 99,236 to 131,732 units.”

As Andy Yan points out, this suggests that “recent municipal and provincial public policies on housing demand matters and has an effect on who and how housing is consumed in Vancouver and B.C.”

Meanwhile Ontario is planning on increasing that province’s foreign buyers’ tax which was introduced in 2017 at 15 percent.

Ontario especially in the Toronto area has had a rapid increase in housing prices, reaching unaffordable levels similar to British Columbia.

This YouTube video below which is part of an article by Douglas Todd regarding investor influence in the housing market features Andy Yan discussing what happens when housing becomes a monetary commodity and distorts pricing in the housing market.




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  1. The difference between 7% “unoccupied” dwellings in Vancouver and 7.4% in Toronto doesn’t seem that striking, considering the demand side measures taken here vs in Toronto/Ontario. It would be interesting to know what proportions of those percentages are STR short-term rentals like AirBNB.

    1. Post

      Hi Robert When you look at the “change” it translates into thousands of units even if it appears incremental as a statistic. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!