COVID-19 hammered Kelowna construction starts in 2020 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 hammered Kelowna construction starts in 2020

February 19, 2021 - 11:10 AM

The value of building permits issued by the City of Kelowna in 2020 was close to half of what it was the year before.

While the number of building permits issued was down by less than 10 per cent, there were more permits given for smaller projects, like renovations and single family homes.

“In 2020, low risk construction and development (responding to COVID-19 uncertainty) was the dominant theme the emerged from Kelowna’s statistics,” the report says. “While fewer large multi-family, commercial and industrial projects commenced, single family residential type projects were less affected by COVID- 19 uncertainty.”

For total permit value, 2020 was the worst out of the last five years that are listed on the City of Kelowna website.

That shows $538 million in permits issued in 2016. The annual totals climbed to $913 million in 2018, dropped to $888 million in 2019 before plummeting to $492 million last year.

Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

“Single family home construction, which generally represents lower risk investment, continued to proceed at a relatively steady rate throughout 2020 but also ended the year below the 10 year average,” the report says.

Permits were issued for 1,096 homes in 2020, down from the five-year average of 2,168.

Statistics on the City’s web page show that the number of single-family homes has been falling every year since 389 permits were issued in 2017. They dropped to 172 permits in 2019 and 166 last year.

Even though the number of permits was lower in 2020 than 2019, the value of those permits was actually up by about $600,000 from 2019 to total almost $110 million last year.

The outlook for 2021 and beyond is quite bright.

“Many developers and builders are planning to move projects ahead in 2021 as evidenced by the rush of buildings permits applications submitted prior to the Feb. 10 grandfathering deadline,” the report states.

After Feb. 10 the charges developers have to pay for each housing unit they build went up significantly.

In January of this year, 222 permits worth almost $115 million were issued in Kelowna. That's more than twice the value of permits issued in any of the previous four years.

Housing construction in recent years has been two-thirds multi-family and one-third single family. That trend was reversed in 2020 because of COVID but the report says that it should get back on track this year.

There have been a number of high-rise projects either proposed or approved for downtown Kelowna and others pending in the South Pandosy/Lakeshore area so far this year.

That includes three applications in the last month for 107 floors in three residential towers in downtown Kelowna, including one proposed to be 46 storeys. That’s near the Bernard Block where two more towers are planned and near the proposed downtown UBCO campus.

READ MORE: Another highrise proposed for downtown Kelowna but this one is affordable housing

In January, the city approved three residential towers in the Water Street by the Lake project along Leon Avenue that total 96 storeys, including one tower at 42 storeys.

READ MORE: Kelowna city council approves massive downtown housing project


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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