Townhouse construction in the Lower Mainland. (Black Press)

Housing slowdown forecast to cool B.C. economy

Conference Board says pipeline, trade uncertainty affecting investment

The B.C. and federal government’s efforts to cool an overheated urban housing market are working, and that’s among the factors leading to a slowdown in B.C. economic growth, the Conference Board of Canada says.

The board’s latest provincial outlook predicts “weaker but still above-trend” growth of 2.1 per cent for 2018 and 2019, after growth above three per cent between 2011 and 2017. It calculates that one third of that growth was due to residential housing investment.

“The double-digit increases in B.C. housing starts in 2015 and 2016 were linked to several factors, including rock-bottom mortgage rates, rapid population growth and tight supply,” the report says. “The pace of expansion was unsustainable, and new tighter mortgage rules and several housing market taxes implemented in the provincial government’s 2018 budget have resulted in a sharp slowdown in activity.”

The B.C. Liberal opposition has been focusing on the projected decline in housing starts, which was also forecast in Finance Minister Carole James’ latest quarterly report.

“Unemployment rates in B.C. remain low, but that’s because the NDP has added 20,000 public sector jobs,” said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, jobs, trade and economy critic for the B.C. Liberals. “From Statistics Canada to this Conference Board report, all signs are showing that we’re on the brink of a real economic downturn here in British Columbia.”

A “speculation tax” on vacant homes in the tightest urban markets is set to take effect in 2019, based on 2018 property values. Local politicians from some of the affected cities, including Metro Vancouver, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Greater Victoria and Nanaimo, called on the province to let cities decide housing taxes, but James said the tax will go ahead as planned.

RELATED: James unmoved by speculation tax concerns

RELATED: B.C. urban housing market ‘moderating’

While home sales in B.C. have slowed considerably, prices were still rising in July, the latest Statistics Canada figures show. The average cost for a new B.C. home rose 1.3 per cent in July. The increase for Victoria was 1.4 per cent and in Kelowna it was 2.0 per cent, compared to 0.5 per cent nationally.

Trade tensions with the U.S. are another factor in slowing economic growth for B.C., the Conference Board concludes.

“The slower growth will be a result of tight labour markets restraining employment growth and of the uncertain outlook for trade and investment attributable to an escalating global trade war and difficulties in obtaining approval for pipelines and liquefied natural gas export facilities throughout the province,” the report says.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HousingBC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan rinks have mixed results as BC Seniors Curling finals begin

A total of 15 rinks are competing in Vernon for right to go to nationals in Manitoba

‘The NDP of the ’90s is back’: Kelowna-Lake Country MLA voices concerns over 2020 budget

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the new budget is “classic NDP tax-and-spend”

Canadian Air Force joins Okanagan rescue of missing Kelowna snowmobiler

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

City of Kelowna signs UNHCR statement of solidarity with refugees

The #WithRefugees campaign invites cities working to promote inclusion and support refugees

Aquilini Group addresses heating complaints at SOPA Square in Kelowna

Some store owners have been without heat at development for up to a month

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read