Housing Starts Drop 29 % In November

While the country dropped six percent in housing starts for November, and BC dropped nine percent, Abbotsford-Mission’s new home construction plummeted to new depths posting a 29 percent drop.

Only 17 new single-detached homes were started in November, up by one from November 2012. In the ‘All Others’ category, which includes business, industry and institutional there was a 75 percent decline from 12 starts to three.

Vancouver posted a 13 percent drop; Victoria a 28 percent drop but Kelowna posted an 87 percent increase.

Abbotsford’s housing market has been stagnant for years largely because it lacks the water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate new economic growth. The City took on massive amounts of debt and financial commitments over the last six years and emptied its Development Cost Charges (DCC) funds so much that it now owes money to the funds which must be repaid in short order.

Without the ability to accept or adapt to new economic growth the City has been issuing fewer and fewer building permits and has even taken to offering incentives, tax breaks and tax giveaways in order to convince builders to add it to their list of cities in which to consider investing.

Empty seats at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre during an Abbotsford Heat home game

Empty seats at the AESC during an Abbotsford Heat home game

The strategy, which attracted the Highstreet Mall outdoor shopping plaza, may have backfired on the City as some retailers are reporting slow sales and taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the developer.

Abbotsford continues to lumber along under its commitments to fund the losses of the Calgary Flames farm team and Global Spectrum, the American company hired to manage the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).

Despite being an on ice force with which to be reckoned, the Abbotsford Heat are have been locked at the bottom of the AHL in terms of attendance since coming to Abbotsford. Global Spectrum has not managed to have the entertainment side of the balance sheet at the AESC pay its way yet.

The City of Abbotsford funnels approximately $10 million each year into its empty hockey rink, its anchor tenant and the management company it hired to run the building. When compared to other such massive investments, Abbotsford’s rink is not amenable to use by the community when it sits empty.

No one at the City of Abbotsford or the Chamber of Commerce where the strategy was hatched, have been prepared to deal openly and honestly with the issue and the city’s lone remaining newspaper seems incapapble of broaching the subject having supported the strategy from its inception.

For the complete table of housing starts from CMHC click here.

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