In Nanaimo, ground has broken on what will soon be 120 units of affordable housing. In East Vancouver, seniors are now enjoying The Link, a recently completed low cost rental building. And first-time homebuyers in Port Moody have the chance to own one of 117 modern, new homes being offered with low down payments.
All of this activity represents progress. While so much has changed in recent months due to COVID-19, one thing has continued: home building.
When the economy was shutting down this spring, the home building industry was declared essential and important projects continued in communities across British Columbia. Women and men on work sites around the province adopted new health and safety protocols but they never put down their hammers.
For all of us, this has been a year unlike any other we have experienced. But through all the uncertainty when so many people and industries are struggling, there is a comfort in driving past a construction site knowing workers are employed, communities are being built and the economic engine continues to run.
This spring, when the pandemic arrived, all of us initially hit the pause button as we absorbed the magnitude of what was happening. But I have been heartened to see important projects continue, including the creation of affordable rental units, homes geared to seniors and increased incentives for young, first-time home buyers.
While sales of new homes and condominiums dropped initially this spring, we have seen record sales activity this summer. More homes were sold in July in Canada than any other month on record. In Greater Vancouver, residential sales were 22 per cent higher than the same month last year, far exceeding the 10-year average.
We have also seen an increasing availability of rental suites, particularly in downtown Vancouver, and new home projects coming on stream.
In part, some of the activity can be attributed to pent-up demand following months of lockdown. But there are also other factors at play.
The pandemic may have delivered us a new-found importance of home, whether it is the lack of daily commute, a desire for more outdoor space or the need for more room for a home office. Our COVID world is changing where we live and the way we live.
All of this represents consumer confidence in our industry and province.