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Plus, Victoria's housing affordability is harder hit than Vancouver in 2022
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Good morning, and happy Friday!

Today, I want to send a special thank you to our newest Capital Daily members, who help fund the reporting we do and allow us to spend time on the stories that matter most: Penny F., Merle-Ann B., Anglea B., Rose W., and Kathleen B.

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Martin,
newsletter editor

Housing development in Langford. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
News
Victoria’s housing affordability is harder hit than Vancouver, Toronto in 2022, National Bank says
Rental prices have also grown 2nd-most in Canada in past decade

No major metropolitan area in Canada saw a greater drop in housing affordability in the first quarter of 2022 than Greater Victoria, according to a new report from the National Bank of Canada.

The latest report—which compares 10 major census metropolitan areas across the country—found Greater Victoria saw the largest rise in mortgage payments as a percentage of income for the 3rd consecutive quarter.

The bank estimates that in today’s market, an average mortgage payment on a median-priced Greater Victoria home would eat up 85.7% of a median household’s monthly income—a number that’s grown by 9.3% in the first 3 months of the year.

That latter figure inches Victoria above Vancouver’s notoriously unaffordable housing market by at least one measure, where a typical mortgage payment relative to the median income has grown by 9% over the same period.

Want a down payment? Wait 30 years, report finds
Greater Victoria’s median home price reached $1.18M in spring 2022. By that number, the report finds, it would take you 31 years and 10 months to save up for a down payment on a typical home, assuming a saving rate of 10% and a median annual income of $74,693.

And to actually afford a typical home, you would need an annual household income of $204,078.

Only in Vancouver is the wait longer and the latter figure worse, where, with a median household income of $88,115, you would need 37 years and 8 months to afford a down payment on a median-priced home of $1.6M, assuming the same savings rate.

The City of Victoria’s proposed "missing middle" housing initiative would, in theory, create room for less expensive housing options, by rezoning to allow for more housing types between condos and single-detached homes—but last week, a contentious council vote to refer the plan back for more public engagement might have spelled its end by delaying a council decision, in all likelihood, until the fall.

Worst affordability in Greater Victoria since 1981
Housing analyst Leo Spalteholz has tracked Greater Victoria’s housing market back to the 1960s. He says you’d have to go back more than 40 years for the last time the market was this out of reach to the average Victorian.

"We had a huge housing boom [then], actually bigger than what we had now in terms of [price increases]," he told Capital Daily.

BC’s population grew by 161K between 1979-1981—a higher leap than at any point dating back to 1971, other than the early 1990s. Interest rates, buoyed by oil prices, higher wages, and the federally-introduced Anti-Inflation Board, rose above 20%.

"And that finally killed the market," Spalteholz says. "[When we hit] 20% [interest] rates, that just exploded affordability, and the market just completely died for about 18 months, and we had a drop of about 30% in prices."

Rental pricing grown significantly in past decade
The figures aren’t particularly more hopeful for would-be renters, either. Among Canada’s largest metropolitan areas, the cost of renting a 2-bedroom apartment has grown more in Greater Victoria since 2012 than in any other city, except for Vancouver.

In a 10-year span, a 2-bedroom Greater Victoria apartment has gone up by $1,690/month, to an average rental price of $2,736/month in May 2022, according to Rentals.ca.

In Vancouver, rent for a 2-bedroom apartment rose by $2,114/month over that same stretch, to an average of $3,324/month.

By Martin Bauman

Capital Bulletin

🌧 Today’s Victoria weather: Periods of rain. High 15C. Cloudy with 60% chance of overnight showers. Low 10.

🌈 Saanich is hosting its first ever "Pride in the Park" event on June 16 at Beckwith Park. Runs 5-9pm.

⚠️ Island Health has issued a drug poisoning and overdose advisory for both Nanaimo and Cowichan.

📝 CORRECTION: In Wednesday’s newsletter, we erred in identifying retired petty officer first class James R. Levesque as a "former navy officer." Under the naval ranking system, Levesque was a senior non-commissioned officer—but not an officer.

New name, new bones, new address, new sign, and a handful of new tenants. Photo: Zoë Ducklow / Capital Daily
News
Danbrook One engineer’s licence revoked, ordered to pay $57K
The structural engineer on a Langford high-rise that was later deemed potentially life-threatening has been fined $25K and had his accreditation as a professional engineer removed. As first reported by CHEK News, the engineer, Brian McClure, was also ordered to pay $32K in legal and investigative expenses incurred by the Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (EGBC).

McClure was an experienced structural engineer at Sorenson Trilogy Engineering, but his career had mostly focused on wood-frame residential buildings that were not more than 5 storeys. This building, 11 storeys and made of concrete and steel, was outside of his scope of expertise, the reviewing engineers said in their interim order last fall.

By the time concerns about the building’s structural safety became public, tenants had already moved into the building. When EGBC notified the City of Langford they were investigating potential life threatening defects in the building, Langford revoked the occupancy permit in December 2019 and all tenants had to find new homes.

A lawsuit followed, initiated by the new owner of the building—Centurion Property Associates—who allege the builder, Design Build Services, withheld information about the building’s structural safety during the sale negotiation, and did not honour the building’s warranty after these defects came to light. That lawsuit is ongoing, and also involves Sorenson Trilogy Engineering and the City of Langford.

Centurion has meanwhile completed remediation work on the building, and re-listed its rentals in March. Some units are now occupied. An architect, Tomasz Anielski of AVRP Architecture, signed off on the seismic remedial work on April 29.

McClure is banned from re-applying to the EGBC for two years. If he applies after that, extra audit steps will be required on his work. Since October 2021 when the inquiry board took an unusual step of issuing an interim order, McClure’s work has been under mandatory review by a third-party engineer. Normally structural engineers have their work reviewed by another engineer, but in this case EGBC ordered that someone from outside McClure’s firm do the review.

The core issue with McClure’s drawings for the building—originally named Danbrook One, but since renamed RidgeView Place at 2770 Claude Rd.—is that the building would not hold up during an earthquake.

The drawings contained "incorrect and incomplete information regarding the seismic force resisting system." Engineers who reviewed the case for EGBC said the building’s design was not flexible enough to absorb an earthquake, and that the land-bearing walls could have collapsed. They said its core footings were "under-designed" and that the foundation was "inadequate to resist seismic forces." An independent review commissioned by Langford, and obtained by The Westshore under a Freedom of Information request, shares more information on the specific failures in the building.

In a Consent Order on May 9, McClure admitted to unprofessional behaviour in several other ways, on top of the basic inadequacy of the design: he copied the design from a different building; he did not maintain a record of changes ordered during site visits; he didn’t do enough site visits; he signed letters of assurance confirming that the design met BC building code; he lied about having a third party review; and, when another engineering firm raised concerns about the design in 2017, long before the building was complete, McClure didn’t take adequate steps to address the issues. McClure’s registration with EGBC was cancelled as of May 9.

By Zoë Ducklow

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Capital Picks

📸 It’s Janky June—get out your cameras! If you know where to find the best-of-the-worst pedestrian paths in Victoria, then it’s your lucky month. The pedestrian advocacy group Walk On, Victoria is hosting a photo contest of shabby sidewalks for all of June. Find out how to enter here.

🚀 Dash to your goal! Fund your passion or make a full-time income by delivering with DoorDash. Become a Dasher. Sign up now.*

🎙 Improv, standup, and sketch all-in-one: Written, produced, and performed by Nash Park and Alex Forman, The Late Night Show bring all the elements of late night TV to the stage, along with a live musical guest. Catch it at the Vic Theatre tonight at 7pm. Tickets are $20.

🏃‍♀️ Last call for the 10th annual Victoria Goddess Run: If you want to get active this weekend and raise funds for women’s initiatives, today’s the last day to register for Saturday’s 5km or 10km run. Sign up between 2-6pm at Frontrunners, 3659 Shelbourne St.

🎁 You know you want it! Get your guide to this year’s Tasting Victoria Best Restaurant Awards, presented by Portofino Bakery. Grab your copy at the Bay Centre Guest Services desk AND get a sweet $10 gift card to go with it, while supplies last! (19+, one per customer)*

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COVID Updates: June 2

Island Health

  • 189 new cases this week / 35,942 total
  • 8 new deaths (339 total) / 76 in hospital (+21 from last week) / 5 in ICU (unchanged from last week)

BC

  • 1,163 new cases this week / 371,720 total
  • 44 new deaths (3,547 total) / 421 in hospital (-52 from last week) / 41 in ICU (-1 from last week)

Belfry Theatre

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TOGETHER WITH BELFRY THEATRE
Kindred closes June 12
Tonight, Saturday, and Sunday, you can catch the final live streaming performances of Kindred, the Belfry’s new romantic comedy.

Learn more.

In Case You Missed It

Advocates say that 2.5 grams of street drug decriminalization isn’t enough: The safe supply advocacy group Moms Stop the Harm says that all personal use and possession of drugs should be decriminalized. Member Kathleen Radu, who lost her son Morgan to drug poisoning in 2020, told Vic News that BC’s limit of 2.5 grams "feels like a pit in our stomach."

On Tuesday, Health Canada granted BC’s request for an exemption to federal drug control laws to decriminalize possession of small amounts of street drugs in an attempt to combat the province’s ongoing opioid crisis. Read our report on what’s changing—and what experts say.

🏡 Real Estate: Stay on pulse of the fast-moving real estate market. Access the latest listings and sold prices of homes and condominiums across Greater Victoria.*

🏥 Tla-o-qui-aht family say they received racist treatment in Nanaimo General Hospital: With a profusely bloody nose, Leo Manson Sr. was sent from the Tofino General Hospital to the Nanaimo General Hospital, where his family reports hospital staff restrained him to his hospital bed with straps, putting him through immense pain. On May 25, his wife, Maxine Manson, filed a complaint with the First Nations Health Authority. "I don’t ever want to see another native person be treated like that," she told CTV.

🤝 Now hiring on YYJobs: Dental Hygienist at Oaklands Dental. Post your job opening on Victoria’s largest job board and fill the position fast!
*Sponsored Listing

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