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Kelowna has lowest vacancy rate of any major Canadian city and that's not a good thing

Image Credit: Wikicommons

The official Canada Mortgage and Housing rental vacancy rate shows Kelowna's fell to a 0.6%  in 2021 from 2.1% the year before.

That’s the lowest rate amongst all the Census Metropolitan Areas in Canada.

Kamloops is now a Census Metropolitan Area (a group of communities with more than 100,000 residents) based on the 2021 census but it, and the five other new centres, were not included in this data base.

READ MORE: Why it's a good thing the Kamloops area now has a population of over 100,000

“The vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments held steady in 2021,” states the CMHC report accompanying the data that was released today, Feb. 18.

That may be true on a national basis but, clearly, that’s not the case for Kelowna or B.C. The province saw its overall vacancy rate fall to 1.4% from 2.4%.

This rate is for “privately initiated apartment structures of three units and over,” as of October for each year, according to CMHC.

Of the four major cities covered in B.C., only Abbotsford-Mission’s vacancy improved, going to 1.6% from 0.6%. Victoria’s fell to 1% from 2.2% and Vancouver dropped to 1.2% from 2.6%.

READ MORE: Kelowna's population grows more than twice as fast as Kamloops: census

Rents also went up in the four centres with Abbotsford-Mission leading the way with a 5.5% increase for two-bedroom units.

But, at $1,279 a month, that’s still cheaper than the Kelowna market where a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,475 a month, a 3.8% increase over 2020.

The same unit in Vancouver is $1,824 per month, the highest in the country.

READ MORE: National rental price up 3% from last year, while vacancy rates hold steady: CMHC

Kelowna’s rental rate ranks fifth out of the 37 centres in the report behind Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria and Ottawa.

The cheapest place to rent of the 37 centres is Saguenay, Quebec where a two-bedroom apartment is only $700.

Edmonton is the easiest city to find an apartment in with a vacancy rate of 7.3%. A two-bedroom apartment rents there for an average of $1,270 per month.

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