Builders Applaud Housing Needs Assessment

September 11, 2023

Builders Applaud Housing Needs Assessment

September 11th, 2023 – Kelowna, BC: If housing is going to get more affordable in Kelowna, it will require monumental construction, collaboration, and a supportive City Council. The City of Kelowna recently released its Housing Needs Assessment for 2021-2031, which highlights the amount, type and expected numbers of homes required to house Kelowna’s rapidly growing population.

The report highlights a current housing deficit of 3,750-5,000 homes. Up to an additional 20,130 homes will be needed to meet future housing demands as the growth of Kelowna is expected to continue.

The estimation represents a near-doubling of housing estimates from the Official Community Plan. Previous targets planned for roughly 1,300 housing units per year for the next decade. With this update, that number has soared to 2,647 every year for the next ten years.

“The Housing Needs Assessment is a great first step to returning housing to the realm of affordability, but it will take time.” Says Daniel Winer, Executive Officer of Canadian Home Builders Association – Central Okanagan. “Kelowna has been issuing building permits at a record-breaking pace, but economic uncertainty is causing delays. It will take a focused effort from elected officials, city staff, and industry to reach these ambitious targets.”


Despite the optimism, immediate roadblocks stand in the way. A lack of available trades labour is one of the largest challenges. According to data from the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation, in 2021 the average number of construction workers for a unit in BC was just 3.3 – the lowest it has ever been. For comparison, Alberta’s number was 8.4 in 2021. This lack can be attributed to the high cost of living, poor promotion of trades as a career, and retirement of legacy tradespeople.

Another issue is the high fees associated with building new homes including land costs, interest rates, and taxes. An example of prohibitive fees in Kelowna is how Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are charged on a unit level, vs. lot level. If a builder wants to build two moderately priced townhomes on a single lot, they will pay twice the municipal fees when compared to building a single-family home with a secondary suite on that same lot. These costs amount to nearly $45,000 per home.


With the goal of achieving housing affordability, there are a several recommendations to build the number of homes required to house our growing population.

  1. Continue to encourage rezoning of the community for multi-family housing and ‘missing middle housing’ like duplexes, row homes, and townhomes.
  2. Lower municipal costs and fees associated with building homes, including incentivizing residential density. Charging DCC fees ‘per lot’ rather than ‘per door’ would be a proactive first step that would incentivize denser forms of residential construction.
  3. Advocate to higher levels of government and partner with local school districts and post-secondary institutions to encourage more tradespeople to work and live in the Okanagan
  4. Form a municipal ‘housing affordability taskforce’ made up of staff, council, industry, and community experts, similar to the crime and safety task force announced in spring 2022.
  5. Continue to streamline the permitting process and leverage innovative technologies like artificial intelligence to further enhance efficiencies around permit issuance.
  6. Report on the results of the Housing Needs Assessment based on occupancy permits as well as building permits, so that the community is aware of success in relation to this assessment.


The Housing Needs Assessment represents the first step and will be followed by a Housing Strategy in the months ahead.

About the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Central Okanagan:

CHBA-CO is the voice of the residential construction industry in the Central Okanagan. Representing over 340 members, the CHBA-CO advocates on behalf and provides education and networking opportunities for builders, renovators, interior designers, and the suppliers and trade companies they employ. Locally, CHBA-CO members have created over 16,000 local jobs. One in five employees in British Columbia work in the home building industry. Membership includes home builders, renovators, land developers, interior designers, trade contractors, product and material manufacturers, building product suppliers, lending institutions, insurance providers, and service professionals. For more information visit