Report: Vacant Homes Plague Canada

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There are more than one million empty or temporarily occupied homes across the country. 

That’s according to the report “‘Ghost’ Homes Across Canada: A Decade of Change in 150 Cities,” which also shows that the majority of the abandoned residences are investment properties or short-term rentals, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. 

Overall, the number of vacant homes has risen from 7.8% to 8.7% in 10 years. More specifically, there are more than 66,000 empty homes in Toronto and 64,000 deserted properties in Montreal. Vancouver has the third-largest number of unoccupied dwellings at 25,000. Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton aren’t far behind – all have more than 20,000 empty homes.

The report shows interesting changes in vacancy rates in some of Canada’s largest cities. Below are summaries of the findings by province.

Empty Homes in BC

Several municipalities on the west coast saw a change in the number of empty homes in their areas. Vacancies increased in North Cowichan, Penticton and Vernon, while Port Moody, Courtenay and Maple Ridge reduced their percentages of unoccupied residences. The vacancy rate also decreased for Vancouver homes, as well.

More specifically, within a decade, the number of vacant properties dropped in Port Moody by 50.4% and in Courtenay by 39%. Maple Ridge also reduced its vacancy rate by 38.2%, as did Langley (by 28.7%) and Port Coquitlam (by 25.9%).

Conversely, during the same amount of time, the number of empty dwellings increased by 82.6% in North Cowichan and by 54.2% in Penticton. Other cities that experienced rises in the number of empty homes include Vernon (up by 42.4%), Abbotsford (up 38.7%) and West Vancouver (increasing by 36.4%). 

Prairie Properties Left Empty

Vacant homes have also become a bigger problem for several cities across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 

In Grande Prairie, AB, the percentage of empty homes rose by 181.4%; in Leduc, the number went up by 172.4%; Fort Saskatchewan vacancies increased by 146.8%; and Cochrane registered a hike of 72.3% more unoccupied dwellings. Prince Albert, SK, saw a 55.4% increase in properties that were left vacant and Red Deer, AB, went up by 50.1%. In Manitoba, the home vacancy rate rose by 42.7%.

However, several other cities in Alberta fared better in their rates of unoccupied homes. Empty residences in Calgary increased by 12.8%; St. Albert’s rate went up by 10.9%; and Medicine Hat logged an increase of just 4.2%. Impressively, several cities also decreased their vacancy rates, including Lethbridge, which dropped by 19%. The percentage of empty homes in Okotoks also went down by 38%, which took its vacancy rate to just 1.8%, and Airdrie saw a 47.3% drop to bring its vacancy rate to 3.3%.

Ontario & Quebec Vacancy Rates Fluctuate

There were various changes in the number of homes left vacant in cities around Ontario and Quebec. 

Baie-Comeau, QC, saw a 63.8% increase in empty homes around the city, causing its vacancy rate to increase to 5.4%. The number of unoccupied dwellings in Longueuil, QC, rose by 59.5%; in Shawinigan, QC, it went up by 53.1%. Home sellers in the Ontario cities of North Bay, Milton and Waterloo faced a tough market, as well. Their cities experienced 68.2%, 46.5% and 29.9% increases in empty properties, respectively. 

On a more positive note, there were fairly significant drops in vacancy rates for some cities, including Levis (down by 12.7%), Beloeil (decreasing by 12.8%) and Granby (declining by 15%). Also, Oshawa went down by 20.4%, Cambridge dropped by 21.1% and Halton Hills was down by 21.4%. In Ontario, 56 large cities had a vacancy rate below 3% by 2016. Yet, in the same province, five municipalities had rates of 10% or higher. 

Bleak Outlook for Vacancy Rates in Atlantic Provinces

A large number of homes are also being abandoned in the Atlantic provinces, which saw many increases in the number of empty homes in 10 years and very few decreases. 

Saint John, NB, saw the biggest increase in vacant dwellings with a rise of 22.7%. Cape Breton, NS, was second with a 21.5% rise. Moncton, NB, also saw a large increase in empty homes with a 14.5% increase, and St. John’s, NL, rose by 8.9%. Halifax saw a 7.3% rise in empty dwellings during the 10-year period. 

However, it wasn’t all bad news in Eastern Canada. The rise in population in Fredericton, NB, in 10 years contributed to its 14.5% drop in vacancy rates.  Charlottetown, PEI, also saw a decrease of 24.8%.



Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.


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