In Metro Vancouver no one gets as excited as Simon Fraser University’s Andy Yan, Director of the City Program when Statistics Canada releases information. Urbanist Andy immediately summed up the surprising gap between median income in Metro Vancouver and housing prices. With median household income at $72,662, Metro Vancouver lags way behind other urban areas, ranking 15th in Canada. And that surprisingly low median income points out what everyone in this region knows-there is a radical disconnect between household income and the price of housing. People working in Metro Vancouver can’t afford to buy a house here.
As reported in the Vancouver Sun by Sam Cooper, Andy surmised this huge gap as “surprising to me that we have the 15th highest incomes in Metro Vancouver, even coming behind Toronto. What we learned today is in Vancouver you are living in paradise, but your wages are in purgatory.” While noting that there was globalization everywhere, Andy observed that “The issue that urgently needs solving is to reconnect local incomes to local housing. But the difficulty is, you will need different policy for different cities.”
Nowhere is that more acute than in the City of Vancouver where average house prices are now $1.4 million dollars. Compare that with a median total household income (2015) of $65,327. Andy also observed that in some areas like Coal Harbour and northwest Richmond wages were even lower than city-wide averages, even though housing prices in those areas were higher. And this has huge ramifications not just on accessibility to the housing market for locals, but for job retention. As Andy notes “If Metro Vancouver doesn’t tackle housing affordability, the growing risk is that talented workers won’t come to the city, and families will start to leave, I think this speaks to why we had a change in provincial government, and I think this could be a factor in upcoming city elections,” Yan said. “You can live here, but you can’t earn your wages here.”
Below are the average housing prices for several other cities in the Province from the first quarter of 2017, with the total household median income below. With comparable median incomes, housing in all of these cities is less than half the cost of housing in Vancouver.
Housing cost -Source: Landcor
Vancouver Island, $567,269
Total household median income, Statistics Canada 2016 Census
Victoria — $70,283
Kelowna — $71,127
Cranbrook — $72,320
Kamloops — $73,336
Percentage Change in Median Incomes by City 2005-2015 Source: Metro News, Andy Yan