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Positive signs for Kelowna, Vernon home construction markets

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A fall-off in inter-provincial migration and the anticipated provincial speculation tax are two factors taking some steam out of the Okanagan housing market.

But an analysis done by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation for Vernon, Kelowna, Prince George and Kamloops still finds some positive new home construction indicators.

Kelowna continues to see a sharp rise in multi-unit residential construction, while both Vernon and Prince George continue to see new home construction growth while attached home construction in Kamloops has increased 10-fold over last year.

Related: Okanagan real estate sales slump continues

Taylor Pardy, analyst for CMHC, says Vernon housing construction looks to double over last year, as 2018 comes in the wake of equally strong years in 2017 and 2016.

“Vernon has seen, up to July, 60 new housing starts come on stream compared to 31 last year, so that is quite significant, and overall for the first seven months of 2018, there have been 279 housing (single, semi-detached, row and apartment) starts compared to 177 last year. So overall, Vernon is seeing a fair amount of building activity in the housing market this year,” Pardy said.

Kelowna has hit a bit of a lull in new-home construction after some recent robust years, but the slack has been taken up by builders turning to multi-unit construction opportunities.

“It was a record year for new home construction in Kelowna last year, and 56 per cent of that was related to the multi-unit rental market,” Pardy said.

“That definitely speaks to the fact the vacancy rate has been so low the last three years, but builders are now choosing to build in the rental market as the rental cash flow for those projects has become a little more attractive.”

Pardy said the drop-off in inter-provincial migration, such as prairie province residents retiring to the Okanagan or choosing to live here and commute to where they work, as having a significant impact on the Central Okanagan housing market.

“I think that is a reflection of a bit of an economic slowdown, particularly in Alberta, and that has a residual affect on housing demand and prices ultimately,” he said.

“When that migration softens a bit, it tends to be reflected in B.C. Interior centres above the 10,000 population mark.”

The speculation tax right now, he said, is more about policy shock anticipated for a new provincial revenue generating directive that has yet to be implemented.

“It’s a bit difficult right now to assess that policy shock. We will have to wait and see what happens with that tax once it is implemented,” he added.

The tax is due to be adopted this fall directly impacting Kelowna and West Kelowna, but no other Okanagan markets.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater has been a vocal critic of the tax. He along with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran met with Premier John Horgan earlier this summer on the issue, but so far there is no indication either community will get a reprieve from being part of a speculation tax zone, joining the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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Lieutenant governor urged to withhold assent on bill 22

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NDP leader Rachel Notley has asked Alberta’s lieutenant-governor to deny assent of Bill 22, controversial legislation introduced Monday that would fire Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson in the middle of his investigation into the UCP leadership race.

The race was won by Premier Jason Kenney in October 2017.

Gibson has been focusing on the so-called “kamikaze” leadership bid of Jeff Callaway since he took office last year and has laid more than $200,000 in fines against 15 people involved.

The Callaway and Kenney campaigns are alleged to have conspired to bring down Kenney’s main opponent Brian Jean. Both men deny the collaboration.

Notley sent a letter on Tuesday to Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell urging her to take action on a bill Notley calls a “misuse of the authority of the legislature” and “a threat to our democratic institutions” — particularly since the government has moved to limit time for debate.

Position would be terminated

“While I recognize that it is unusual for the lieutenant-governor to exercise this authority, I am convinced that the exceptional nature of this proposed legislation calls for such extraordinary measures,” Notley writes.

The move to fire Gibson is part of Bill 22, an omnibus-style bill introduced Monday.

The proposed legislation would dissolve the independent office of the election commissioner and change the scope of the position so it reports to Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler.

Gibson’s contract, which was in place until 2023, would be terminated upon passage and royal assent of the bill.

The government claims the move achieves greater efficiency and saves $1 million over five years.

Critics say that by removing Gibson, Premier Jason Kenney is thwarting additional investigations into the race.

Finance Minister Travis Toews, the minister responsible for Bill 22, said Resler is free to rehire Gibson if he chooses. Toews said the change will have no effect on ongoing investigations.

The NDP will also seek an emergency debate on the bill Tuesday afternoon. Since the UCP has a majority in the Alberta legislature, the request likely will not be granted.

Notley said on Monday the NDP caucus will also be seeking advice on what legal steps can be taken to stop the government from firing Gibson.

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Snowfall hits Calgary, surrounding area

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Calgary drivers are in for a slow and slippery morning commute as the city gets a little blast of winter weather.

Calgary is expected to see 10 to 15 centimetres of snowfall on Tuesday, according to a warning from Environment Canada.

The agency says a low pressure system swept into southwestern Alberta late Monday and tracked east early Tuesday morning.

The snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday morning.

“Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” the warning read.

Traffic was slow on Parkdale Boulevard N.W. as snow continued to fall Tuesday morning. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

The Calgary International Airport is reminding travellers to arrive early and check for any flight-schedule changes due to the snowfall.

Calgary Transit says two bus routes — No. 6 and No. 20 — have been detoured because of the snowfall.

Police said there were six collisions on city streets between midnight and 6:30 a.m.

The snowfall warning also covers:

  • Airdrie, Cochrane, Olds and Sundre.
  • Okotoks, High River and Claresholm.
  • Brooks, Strathmore and Vulcan.
  • Medicine Hat, Bow Island and Suffield.

A complete list of weather warnings can be viewed on Environment Canada’s website.

Rachelle McNiel shovels snow on the sidewalk outside her home on 27th Street N.W. on Tuesday. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

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François-Philippe Champagne to be Canada’s next foreign affairs minister

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François-Philippe Champagne will be Canada’s new foreign affairs minister, CBC-Radio-Canada has learned.

Champagne, who served as the minister of infrastructure and communities in the last Parliament, will replace Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s top diplomat, tasked with stickhandling the sensitive U.S. and China files.

It’s not yet known where Freeland will be moved, but she is expected to preside over a crucial domestic role as regional tensions rise across the country.

Champagne, a former trade lawyer, has served as minister of international trade in the past.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will formally unveil his new cabinet at a ceremony at Rideau Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Radio-Canada is also reporting that Jonathan Wilkinson will be the new environment minister.

Pablo Rodriguez will be the government house leader, in charge of working with opposition parties and keeping the parliamentary agenda on track. It’s a position that takes on heightened importance in a minority government.

Steven Guilbeault, a high-profile Quebec environmental activist, will be the new heritage minister, according to sources with knowledge of the appointments who spoke to CBC-Radio Canada. The sources spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to comment.

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