Almost 70 per cent of Saanich residents own their homes. The number of renters, however, has gone up. Photo courtesy of Derek Ford/District of Saanich

Saanich residents still prefer single-detached homes

When it comes to housing, Saanich’s population of 114,148 prefer to live in single-detached homes.

According to 2016 census data, single-detached homes account for almost 48 per cent of all private occupied dwellings in Saanich (22,145 out of 46,650).

This figure is not surprising against the backdrop of Saanich’s perceived status as a largely suburban community that evolved out of an agricultural community.

Apartments or suites in a duplex account for the second-largest category of dwellings, with 10,350. Apartments in a building with fewer than five storeys account for the third largest category with 8,845. Row houses (3,505) and semi-detached homes (1,185) round the Top 5 dwelling types.

Notably, 550 private dwellings are in apartment buildings with five or more storeys. Few Saanich residents, in other words, live in what might qualify as high-density apartment buildings.

Looking at home ownership, almost 70 per cent of Saanich households own the home in which they live, with 14,015 households renting. This rate places Saanich slightly above the provincial average of almost 68 per cent. This said, the number of renters in Saanich has risen to 30 per cent from 27 per cent with a corresponding decline in home ownership.

Saanich’s trend line of declining home ownership appears consistent with larger trends. According to Statistics Canada, the national home ownership rate has remained relatively stagnant over the last decade. In 2006, it was 68.4 per cent, in 2011, 69 per cent. However, between 1991 to 2006, it had risen from 62.6 per cent to 68.4 per cent.

It is likely that home ownership rates will drop in the medium future. For many years, baby boomers (because of their demographic weight) were driving changes in home ownership rates across Canada,” according to a Statistics Canada release. “But this is different for younger generations. Younger adults aged 20 to 34 – those often referred to as the millennial generation – are slower to get into the housing market than was the case for the baby boomers at that age.”

Whether they own or rent, the number of Saanich residents who pay less than 30 per cent on shelter has remained relatively steady since the start of the decade, as recorded by Statistics Canada.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 72.1 per cent private households spent less than 30 per cent of their total household income on shelter. In 2016, this figure was about 73.4 per cent.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines housing to be affordable if shelter costs account for less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income.

This said, we find considerable variations when comparing owners against renters. Looking at renters, almost 45 per cent of tenants in Saanich spent more than 30 per cent of their respective incomes on shelter. The figure for Saanich homeowners? Just under 19 per cent.

The 2011 National Household Survey also underscored significant variations when it comes to home ownership and housing affordability.

National data shows four in five (82.4 per cent) couple-family households owned their dwelling, while less than half (48.5 per cent) of single households owned their dwellings. Just over half (55.6 per cent) of single-parent households owned their respective dwelling.

Single-parent households and non-family households were more likely to pay 30 per cent or more of total income towards shelter costs — about twice the proportion of couple-family households.

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