The Housing Shortage in the Okanagan: Why Low Supply = High Prices

May 24, 2023

The Okanagan Valley has long been celebrated for its stunning landscapes, vibrant communities, and thriving economy. However, beneath the surface of this idyllic region lies a pressing issue: a severe housing shortage that threatens the well-being and growth of the region. In this blog post, we will delve into the alarming statistics surrounding housing starts and migration, shedding light on the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for action.

Housing Starts:

One of the key indicators of a housing shortage is the number of housing starts, which refers to the beginning of construction on new residential properties. Unfortunately, the Okanagan Valley has experienced a significant decline in housing starts in recent years. According to data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), housing starts in the region dropped by 15% from 2019 to 2021.

The decline in housing starts can be attributed to several factors, including strict regulations, limited available land for development, and rising construction costs. As a result, the supply of new housing has failed to keep up with the growing demand, exacerbating the housing shortage in the region.


Another factor contributing to the housing shortage in the Okanagan Valley is the influx of migrants seeking to settle in this desirable area. The region’s natural beauty, favorable climate, and strong economy have attracted individuals and families from across Canada and even internationally. This increased migration has placed additional strain on the housing market, further intensifying the shortage.

According to Statistics Canada, between 2015 and 2020, the Okanagan Valley witnessed a net migration gain of approximately 13,000 people. This surge in population has undoubtedly fueled the demand for housing, leaving many residents struggling to find suitable and affordable accommodations.

Consequences of the Housing Shortage:

The housing shortage in the Okanagan Valley has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the mere lack of available homes. It impacts individuals and communities on multiple levels, affecting affordability, quality of life, and economic growth.

Affordability: With the limited housing supply unable to meet the increasing demand, property prices and rental rates have skyrocketed. This has created significant affordability challenges, making it increasingly difficult for individuals, particularly low-income earners and young families, to secure suitable housing within their means.

Quality of Life: The shortage of affordable housing options often forces individuals to make difficult trade-offs, such as living in overcrowded or substandard conditions. Families may struggle to find adequate space for their children, while seniors face difficulties finding suitable housing that meets their unique needs. This compromises the overall quality of life for many residents.

Economic Implications: The housing shortage can also hinder economic growth and development in the Okanagan Valley. A lack of affordable housing makes it challenging for employers to attract and retain talent, limiting the potential for businesses to expand. Additionally, the construction industry, which is a crucial contributor to the regional economy, may face challenges in meeting the housing demand due to various constraints.

Urgent action is required to address this crisis, including policies that encourage increased housing supply, promote affordability, and support sustainable development practices.

Efforts must also be made to collaborate with local municipalities, developers, and community organizations to find innovative solutions. By tackling the housing shortage in head-on, we can ensure that this gem of British Columbia remains a vibrant and inclusive place for all its residents, present and future.