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Nanaimo construction strong as housing demand remains high

Nanaimo’s construction ­sector continues to boom largely because of strong demand for multi-family housing in the growing city.
The 4961 Songbird Place project has a construction value of $22.6 million. It features a five-storey multi-family development with 98 residential units. D-ARCHITECTURE, VIA CITY OF NANAIMO

Nanaimo’s construction ­sector continues to boom largely because of strong demand for multi-family housing in the growing city.

Last year’s building permit values reached $410 million, coming second to the previous record set in 2019.

The 10-year construction value average is just over $250 million, showing that 2022 was a “very strong year,” Dale Lindsay, general manager of development services, told ­council.

The construction applications included a total of 1,370 residential units. Of those, 1,065 were in multi-unit projects, he said.

Nanaimo’s population of approximately 100,000 is ­continuing to attract new resident. It is one of the ­fastest-growing cities in the country and second in ­population on Vancouver Island only to Saanich.

Staff are wrapping up a 10-year projection for the city in terms of housing demand, ­Lindsay said. The city will have to add 1,400 units annually to meet anticipated demand.

The 10-year average of new units per year is slightly more than 1,000.

That demand is driving major investments, significant ­private sector investment, and is ­changing the nature of the community towards more of a mix of housing types. More houses have suites. More multi-family projects, many rental, are built or on the way.

Fewer single-family homes are being built. Last year saw just 144 single-family permits taken out, the lowest in at least nine years, when more than 150 were built.

The highest residential project by construction value among 2022 projects was 6020 Linley Valley Dr. at $29.52 million. It features two, five-storey and one, ­four-storey multi-family residential ­buildings with a total of 152 units.

Close behind is 4979 Wills Rd., with a construction value of $29.023 million for a seven-storey, 160-unit seniors care residence.

When it comes to ­development permit applications (the properties already have appropriate zoning for a particular site), again the numbers of units per permit are larger than in the past, reflecting the overall trend in favour of building multi-family housing, Lindsay said.

Many more proposed ­developments are working through the city’s application process, he noted.

Not all projects need to go through a public hearing to seek rezoning approval, he said.

“We have a significant amount of pre-zoned land in the ­community that people are ­taking advantage of and ­investing on and the need for rezoning has not been as ­significant.”

“Our population is growing and our housing options are growing with it,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

“With more and more ­housing concentrated in areas where people can easily access shopping, services and employment, we are becoming a more vibrant urban centre.”

And by growing up instead of outwards, the city protects green spaces and natural areas, he said in a statement.

City hall interprets the data as confirming Nanaimo’s long-term vision for more complete neighbourhoods, featuring nearby services which can be linked through transportation corridors that include bus routes.

“Building permits issued in 2022 show that vision is ­becoming a reality through the construction of multi-unit ­buildings near transportation corridors and urban amenities,” the city said.

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