BOW VALLEY – Temperatures are not the only thing fluctuating in the Bow Valley as residential rental rates are increasing and decreasing in Banff and Canmore, according to the recently released Bow Valley Labour Market Review.
With more than 870 units between Canmore and Banff counted between August 2018 and this January, the review showed Banff rental rates increased by five per cent on average while Canmore’s rental rates decreased by six per cent from the same period the year before.
The data was collected and shared in the labour market review by the Bow Valley Job Resource Centre.
“It is interesting,” said Sharon Oakley, the Town of Banff’s housing sustainability manager. “Really until we see some movement in the overall vacancy rate in the valley, it will stay like this where it is increasing every year [in Banff].”
Counting an additional 93 units in Banff, with a total of 286 units listed from the 193 units counted the previous year, the rental rates increased all across the board with an 11 per cent increase for studio units and an eight per cent increase on two-bedroom units.
“It’s basically a supply and demand scenario,” Oakley said.
“It’s a landlord’s market I guess and when we see an increase on that vacancy and the market becomes competitive again, we may see that start to flatten in terms of the rental rates, or at least it will slow the increases.”
The average cost for one-bedroom to two-bedroom ranged from $1,528 to $1,995 in Banff. Roommate and shared housing was reported with an average cost of $859 and a studio/bachelor suite was listed with an average price of $1,104.
Oakley added she is curious to see how the new housing units for Banff will affect the market.
Ti’nu – an affordable rental housing project built by the municipality – opened the 131-unit apartment complex last year and the YWCA Banff secured provincial and federal funding last fall for a 33-unit, three-storey affordable housing project with completion expected by the end of 2019.
“Part of the scenario in the Bow Valley is we just don’t have enough units on the market yet. We are just waiting to see the inclusion of all the new units being built and what kind of affect that will have on the overall market and vacancy rate,” Oakley said.
However, Banff did celebrate a small victory, the housing sustainability manager said, when it was revealed the vacancy rate moved to 0.6 per cent after sitting at zero per cent vacancy rating since 2013.
“Everyone in the Bow Valley is well aware of the shortfall of housing units available and I think there’s been a concentrated effort over the last couple of years to make some changes in that,” Oakley said.
“Hopefully we’ll start seeing some of the changes impacting the markets.”
CANMORE NUMBERS DISPUTED
Meanwhile, the rental rates in Canmore reportedly decreased by six per cent overall.
Director of the Job Resource Centre Michel Dufresne said he was “surprised” by the overall decrease in Canmore and commented the methodology for tracking average rental rates is not “scientific.”
The labour market review revealed studio accommodations decreased by 21 per cent and two-bedroom units had dropped by eight per cent with the number of rentals staying consistent between 591-596 both years.
But Canmore Community Housing Corporation (CCHC) manager Dougal Forteath said his organization’s data did not support the market review’s findings.
According to the market review, studio rental rates averaged $946, one bedroom units averaged $1,422, two-bedroom units averaged $1,767 and three-bedroom units averaged $2,250. CCHC’s findings, on the other hand, found studio units averaged $1,056, one-bedroom units averaged $1,483, two-bedroom units averaged $1,959 and three-bedroom units averaged $2,657.
Forteath disputed the averaged costs because CCHC produces monthly data on the rental market using data from Asset West, PEKA Professional Property Management, RE/MAX, the Rocky Mountain Outlook and Kijiji. The Bow Valley Labour Market Review bases average rental rates from local print and online media including the Outlook, Kijiji and Facebook.
“I told them we would review our methodology and we would recalculate our percentage differences,” Dufresne said. “It is entirely possible we’ve made a mistake, but in our defence, these numbers we put up have a purpose. We are not a relator or a housing corporation, we provide information for job seekers.”