1 in 3 ‘seriously’ considering leaving B.C. due to cost of living pressures: poll

A new poll suggests more than one in three B.C. residents are thinking of leaving the province. As Lauren Stallone reports, pressures from the cost of living continue to rise.

As housing affordability and cost of living pressures continue, a new poll says more than one in three B.C. residents are thinking of leaving the province.

The Angus Reid poll shows about 36 per cent of those polled are “seriously considering leaving British Columbia because of the cost of housing here.”

More than 1,200 were randomly surveyed by the research company between May 24 and 30.

The poll suggests that those in the Fraser Valley are most likely to be considering a move compared with residents in other parts of the province. Forty-two per cent of those in the Valley are thinking of moving, while only 22 per cent of those living on Vancouver Island are thinking of leaving.

Angus Reid says 66 per cent of respondents cited the cost of living and inflation as the biggest issue in B.C. right now, followed closely by health-care and housing affordability.

“Housing affordability challenges are nothing new to many British Columbians. Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, and Kelowna all rank among the 12 most expensive cities to rent in across the country, while purchase prices follow a similar trend. Home prices have been rising precipitously since the turn of the century,” Angus Reid explained.

“While the BC NDP has announced a series of actions on home affordability, and Metro Vancouver now leads the nations in new housing starts, residents continue to grapple with the reality of costs. Half (53%) say the government needs to focus more on taking steps to address their housing needs. One-quarter (24%) are satisfied, and seven per cent say the focus has been too heavy.”

Last year, B.C. had net-negative interprovincial migration for the first time in more than a decade, Angus Reid shared.

“Despite this outflow, the province’s population still grew, but the exodus of British Columbians to other provinces is perhaps emblematic of the affordability challenges the province faces. A study released in Nov. 2023 showed that B.C. had the highest cost of living of any province in the country,” it said.

“Half of 18- to 34-year-olds and more than two-in-five 35- to 54-year-olds say they are seriously thinking of leaving the province because of the cost of housing. For older British Columbians, who are more likely to be more established perhaps with a home that they’ve paid off, leaving is less of a consideration.”

B.C. still has ‘to do more’: housing minister

Even though Metro Vancouver is currently home to the most housing starts in Canada, B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon understands that his government will have to “continue to do more.”

“We have a shortage of housing across British Columbia, we’re decades behind when it comes to investment,” Kahlon told CityNews.

“If you look back at when government stopped investing in affordable housing, just over 20 years ago, and you caculate how many could have been built, we would be at the number we need.”

Kahlon highlights the steady influx of immigrants to B.C. presents additional challenges for the housing market. Although, he also thinks the ‘challenge’ has created opportunity.

“We’ve got 10,000 people coming every 37 days to British Columbia,” he said. “It’s putting pressure on our communities, but on the positive side, we have two-and-a-half times more per capita housing under construction right now than Ontario. We need to continue to invest and unlock housing.”

Based on a 2023 report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, projections suggest that by 2030, the province could face a shortfall of approximately 650,000 affordable housing units if trends identified that year persist.

Kahlon noted that his government remains committed to pursuing avenues to expand affordable housing options for British Columbians.

“During these challenging times, the worst thing we can do is go backwards,” Kahlon added.

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