Agassiz’s building boom

The District of Kent is seeing more than four times as many new builds this year than it did last year

By Grace Kennedy | November 2, 2021 |6:16 am

For every construction project in the District of Kent last year, there are now four more, as the Fraser Valley’s building boom finally reaches Agassiz and its surroundings.

Construction began on 44 new homes in the district between January and the end of September—more than four times the number during the same period in 2020. And while the figures are dramatically smaller than the community’s Fraser Valley neighbours, they suggest the prices and demand for homes is starting to push development outside the major centres. Across the region, construction has begun on more than 3,100 homes since the start of the year. And with many larger projects taking more than a year to complete, there were nearly 6,500 homes under construction across the region as of September. (That figure has been roughly constant since March, when the valley reached an all-time high for homes under construction. The figures, which are released by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, don’t include Hope.)


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In Kent, the district’s recent housing needs report anticipated the community would need an additional 508 housing units by 2025. (Kent is the municipality that governs Agassiz and a large swath of surrounding farmland. For more on housing needs assessments in communities across the Fraser Valley, check out our story.)

Like many communities struggling to find more housing for people, Kent has been working on new ways to encourage more development in the municipality, as most of its land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. One of the endeavours, which would involve subdividing lots that are exempt from ALR-restrictions, was put forward earlier this year and approved by council last month. Another endeavour, which would have seen the district’s Teacup Properties removed from the ALR and developed, was kiboshed by the Agricultural Land Commission. But the numbers show construction is already getting underway without new initiatives by the district.

Between the start of the year and the end of September, construction has begun on 44 new houses—a major increase from the 10 new starts during the same period last year. (In all of 2020, there were only 15 new builds.) Most of those are single-family homes—30 new starts compared to 2020’s 14 for the year. But there are also significantly more multi-family homes getting underway. Between 2018 and 2020, no townhomes and only two apartment units were built in Kent. So far in 2021, there have been 12 row homes and two semi-detached homes that have started construction.

(This isn’t the biggest boom in Kent’s history. In 2016, the district saw a whopping 68 new housing starts get underway, though about half were houses in a single development.)

Completing construction in Kent, on the other hand, is another matter. Only 22 houses that were under construction have been completed this year—and that’s an increase from 2020, when only 13 homes were completed. (The average amount of time a house is under construction has actually increased slightly in the last five years, from just under four months to just under five months according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. However, the small number of builds in Kent can skew that number significantly, if individual projects take significantly longer or shorter than what is typical.)

While Harrison Hot Springs actually has more homes under construction—80 as of September—the bulk of those are in a single 56-unit apartment residence. Beyond that development, building continues to be slow in the village.

Although rental housing was identified as a major need in Kent’s housing needs report, with 15% of new households anticipated to be renting, that’s not reflected in Kent’s new construction. Of the 44 starts so far this year, only three are intended to be rental housing.

To see more data on the District of Kent’s housing construction boom, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.

With files from Tyler Olsen

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Grace Kennedy

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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