[lbo-talk] Comparing rent spikes in Canadian cities and neighbourhoods

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 22 12:06:47 PST 2018

Affordable housing advocates will find the linked article below useful, not least because of the excellent interactive tool embedded in it which demonstrates the soaring cost of rental housing in every neighbourhood in major Canadian cities, including by unit size.

I used it to examine the trend over five years in downtown Victoria, where I now live. It confirms that Victoria, and the downtown in particular, has become one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country. Average downtown rents have shot up by 35.6% between 2012-2017, and family-sized units have given way to increasingly cramped studio and one-bedroom apartments.

The data actually underestimates the rental inflation rate because it's based on occupied units rather than the rental market. “What the average tenant is paying is not what the average tenant would pay if they rented today, because the rental prices CMHC reports are primarily for occupied units and people tend to hold on to those rental homes”, one analyst told the Star.

A sign of the times: the Star’s correspondent is identified as the “Affordable Housing Reporter”. When I was a young reporter at the same publication, I was assigned the labour beat, covering trade unions, strikes, and working conditions. Now there are no longer any Labour Reporters, reflecting the sharp decline of the unions and class conflict over the past four decades. At the time, you wouldn’t have found any Affordable Housing Reporters; it simply wasn’t the issue it is today in that period of rising wages driven by stronger unions coupled with lower home prices.


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