The last in a three part series on Mayor Don McCormick’s housing market analysis.
In the final third of the look at the housing market in Kimberley, McCormick looks at where we are headed in the future.
“If the demand is there, why have builders not just built more homes? This has to do with the ebbs and flows of supply and demand. Builders will not build until there is obvious demand, as they will not risk being stuck with a finished dwelling that might not sell. However, demand is not obvious until existing inventories are running low and it is almost always less expensive to purchase a used home. Also, without multi-unit residential building, it is very difficult for building to keep up with population growth. You cannot build single family homes fast enough. There has been no purpose built rental housing – that is, apartment style buildings – in Kimberley in recent memory. Add to this the time it takes to sub-divide, service and build.”
What is the city doing to encourage building?
“First of all, encouraging developers to focus on multi-unit residences – duplexes, townhomes and apartments; any dwelling type that would increase affordable supply as quickly as possible.” McCormick said. “Much of this amounted to convincing them that demand was indeed there.
“In many municipalities zoning and permitting processes do not move fast enough. Kimberley needed capacity to oversee zoning and permitting at the pace needed to get homes built, so the City hired 3 new positions into Planning – 2 planners and a second building inspector. Feedback from developers is positive; homes are being built.
“The sale of City-owned serviced lots has also resulted in more than a dozen new residences being built, with more to come.”
There are several multi-unit rental developments underway, McCormick says,and if all progress as planned, there will be as many as 150 rental units available in 18 – 24 months.
“If all of the early-stage projects move forward, there will be sufficient inventory to meet demand during this next 5 year period. Half of the units planned are rental, and half are targeting purchase. “
There are also a dozen active developers with plans for residential construction. Several are local developers with roots in the community, several who have previous projects in Kimberley, and several who have no previous project ties to the community but now live here as well as others who have been coming to Kimberley for years. We are fortunate to have a group of developers that know our community and who are engaged in building in a responsible and sustainable manner. We have reason to be excited about the future.
“The City cannot build houses, but we are attracting developers with projects that will satisfy our current and future need for housing.”
McCormick also spoke on the notion that the need for a new wastewater treatment plant is because Kimberley’s population has grown too fast.
“This is not true,” he said. “Our current facility is designed for 12,000 people. A new plant is needed because the existing one is very old, and it is difficult to keep up with the ever-increasing regulatory requirements for discharge of effluent into the river. There are many benefits to the replacement – such as elimination of river discharge in favor of a more environmentally sustainable service.
Kimberley has sufficient infrastructure to support our modest growth.”
“The Housing Needs Assessment received by Council last year highlighted the shortfalls in our housing market. The census data has quantified those conclusions.
“72 homes were started in 2021, and we are on a similar pace for 2022. The 42 unit Watkins & Central project is now under construction. Zoning has been approved for the 46 unit rental development on Phillips Avenue. We are seeing progress.
“Although we have many projects at some stage of development, construction is a challenge in the current environment – including cost escalation and availability of builders. The cost of construction is what it is; we cannot control that. However, multi-unit residences are an opportunity to build less expensively per unit and at the same time add significantly to the housing inventory more quickly.
“A balance of rental and purchase options available in numbers that match our population growth will make more affordable homes easier to find. This is the goal we are working hard to achieve, but it will require a change to what has always been done. Your City Council understands that change can be challenging in any community, but especially smaller communities like Kimberley. By being proactive at managing that change, and responding to what the data shows with respect to community needs, we are better positioned to meet the needs of all residents in our thriving community.”