A 90-unit apartment building by Campbell Shores is under construction at 1430 South Island Highway in Campbell River. Photo by Binny Paul/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River is ‘booming’ says City’s development manager

The amount of upcoming properties may redeem the city’s reputation of having one of the worst rental vacancy records in B.C.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed down the pace of new homes being built in Campbell River.

Ron Bowles, general manager of community development at the City of Campbell River confirmed that the Community, Planning Development Services Department has been “busier than ever” during the pandemic.

“That itself gives a window into the future because that is the department that issues permits for everything that will be built in Campbell River,” said Bowles.

With new structures going up in Campbell River, the city’s reputation of having one of the worst rental vacancy figures in the province is finally on the road to recovery, said Bowles.

With Campbell River’s published vacancy rate at 0.5 per cent, the city was ranked as the second-worst place in the province to find rental properties.

The city and real estate developers have looked into this need for rental properties and acted on it, said Bowles.

In 2019, more than 600 housing units were built or are in development and 273 of those were multi-family units. In addition, 100 new lots were created in 2019 and another 400 are in review, said Bowles. According to Bowles, these upcoming construction projects aim to meet the present and growing demand for housing in the city.

“Campbell River is definitely booming, there’s lots going on ground and in planning. There are ongoing constructions in Quinsam Heights, Dogwood Street, Jubilee Park, Rockland Road and Willow Point among other locations.

Multiple waterfront housing projects – including a 90-unit rental apartment building by Campbell Shores and a 21-unit luxury condo – are under construction along Highway 19A.

Realtors have noticed the trend of people moving to Campbell River from the Lower Mainland. At the same time, housing is way more affordable in Campbell River than the Lower Mainland or the South Island, said Bowles.

“In Campbell River, you have an urban centre with a big hospital, all the amenities, nice location and affordable housing,” said Bowles, pointing out that these factors have attracted a lot more housing investment in the city.

Brett Giese, president and owner of Crowne Pacific Development Corp. and Veyron Properties Ltd. said that of late, there is a growing demand for rental properties from young professionals.

With most companies offering the option to work remotely, young professionals from mainland B.C. are opting to rent in Campbell River, he said.

The pandemic has not slowed down people from buying houses either. Most of Crown Pacific’s buyers, he said, are from Vancouver, Alberta and Ontario.

“We had to figure innovative ways to show properties virtually to out-of-province buyers during the pandemic when travel was not possible,” said Giese.

Despite the pandemic, the construction sector in Campbell River was able to sustain the demand because they reacted “very swiftly” to COVID-19, said Bowles.

“Residential constructions did not slow down and many of them kept going. For all intents and purposes, their applications for permits kept coming in,” he said.

For building inspectors, even after the onset of the pandemic, it was business as usual, said Bowles. The city put in new protocols in place for building inspections so that inspectors could go ahead and do their jobs.

“Within a week of the city hall shutting down, on-site inspections resumed after health and safety protocols were established,” he said.

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