Development approvals faster in Penticton, Kamloops, Kelowna than in other parts of BC

Shorter wait for builders

Penticton, Kamloops and Kelowna lead the way on wait times for development approvals in a report released less than two weeks before BC’s civic elections.

The report, commissioned by the Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia ahead of the October 15 civic elections highlights the rising rate of “suppressed households”.

The term is used to define young people and families that would like to own their own home, but aren’t able to because of affordability and supply issues.

CHBA BC hired Altus Group Economic Consulting to look into housing supply shortfalls in 13 municipalities and the economic consequences of those shortfalls. The study also examined municipal development application timelines and found the three Okanagan-Thompson communities had the fastest approvals.

The average wait times were 13-14 months. It was measured from the date a municipality acknowledged a complete application to when planning approval was granted.

Altus sampled 650 individual approvals including 242 rezoning applications, 274 development permits and 87 subdivision approvals.

"We’ve heard time and time again from our members that they want to build more but are being held up by lengthy approval timelines and government delays,” said CHBA BC President, Cassidy DeVeer.

“This report demonstrates that while some municipalities are trying to improve the pace of development, we are not keeping up with demand from within the province and the steady population growth from both international immigration and the inflow of people from other provinces who see B.C. as their destination of choice.”

Despite the quicker-than-average approval process in the city, Kelowna still couldn’t keep up with the demand for rental housing, with a rental vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent in 2021.

The CHBA BC claims the study’s findings show a disconnect between the housing supply being demanded and what’s being approved. The percentage of apartments getting the go-ahead has shot up but the research found demand is growing for family-sized housing.

An ageing population is also pushing up demand for ground-oriented housing, including single, semi-detached or townhouses.

The homebuilders association says if supply more closely matched demand, the province would have seen the creation of 87,000 more households between 2011 and 2021.

“All housing options need to be on the table, and governments must improve transparency in the development process. A provincial reporting system will ensure we’re on the right track to build the housing needed for first-time homebuyers, families, new Canadians, and our ageing population who want to call B.C. home,” said CHBA BC CEO, Neil Moody.

“The economic consequences are dire if all levels of government don’t work together towards a common goal of building more supply to improve affordability across the province over the next 30 years.”

The rising cost of housing in the Lower Mainland has prompted an exodus over the past decade of people looking for more affordable places to live. Metro Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey have been losing residents.

Kelowna, on the other hand, saw the second fastest population growth of the 13 municipalities studied at 22 per cent. Squamish had the most growth at 39 per cent.

You can read the full Municipal Housing Supply and Benchmarking study here.

More Kelowna News