The study, which looked at 225,000 properties, noted that the city’s 2014 vacancy rate of 4.8 per cent was not much different from the 4.9 per cent rate back in 2002. The report added that these figures did not veer significantly from those of other major cities in the country.
“What the study seems to indicate is that indeed Vancouver is not that much different than other municipalities,” architect Michael Geller told CBC News
However, the report’s authors emphasized that while the percentages are nearly the same, the actual number of vacant properties in Vancouver has grown due to the increase in the city’s overall housing stock.
Complicating matters is that investors—most of them foreign—are purchasing real estate and leaving these unused, which might be contributing to the unchecked home price increases and the gnawing problem of housing access in the city.
“It's unacceptable that so many homes are left empty at a time so many of our residents are struggling to find appropriate housing,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement. “Housing needs to be first and foremost for people to live in, not to be treated as a commodity.”
Geller speculated that media and industry publicity has spurred the red-hot growth, but the city government said that more data is required to find out the true drivers of price increases.
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A report forwarded to the Vancouver city council last Tuesday (March 8) stated that the non-occupancy rate in the metropolis remained virtually flat over the past 14 years, with most of the unused homes being apartments.