Nanaimo Quarterly Economic Update
Q2 2015

A look at the Nanaimo economic conditions,
April to June 2015. Author: Amrit Manhas, Economic Development Officer


(Source: Statistics Canada Labour force survey; Nanaimo unemployment rate is for Jan 2015)

The three month moving average (3MMA) unemployment rate for Nanaimo was not reported in June of 2015 as the estimates were suppressed because they did not meet the confidentiality threshold.  The confidentiality threshold for Nanaimo is 1,500.  Given that the Labour force survey is a sample survey, estimates relating to very specific, detailed geographic areas, are subject to higher variability due to small sample size. As a result, the unemployment rate for the Nanaimo Region is not reported.  Vancouver Island as a whole was at 6.0% unemployment rate, lower than BC and Canada.
There were 36,700 persons employed in the Nanaimo region in the second quarter of 2015, which is down 500 persons from first quarter 2015.  In total, 38,000 people were in the labour force in the second quarter of 2015, compared to 49,900 in second quarter 2014. The unemployment rate for Nanaimo region was unreported in second quarter of 2015 and was 7.4% in the second quarter of 2014. The Participation rate for Nanaimo was 47.3% in Q2 2015 compared to 60.3% in Q2 2014. Stats Canada has recently released the July 2015 unemployment rate for Nanaimo at 4.2%.
In BC, full-time jobs increased in May after three months of losses (up 9,600 compared to April) while part-time employment also increased (+21,100 jobs).

Residential Real Estate

(Source: Vancouver Island Real Estate Board; Canada Real Estate Association)

In June 2015, the average resale price of a single family home increased by 7% ($385,436) compared to June 2014 ($358,962). Homes listed for sale increased by 8% and units sold by 17%. Lots listed for sale decreased by 46%, while sales improved by 51% above June 2014 levels.  Prices for lots increased by 4% in the twelve month period between June 2014 and June 2015.  The number of Condo (apt) units listed for sale increased by 7%, and sales increased by 16%, while the average price decreased by 1%.  Patio style condo listings increased by 17% and units sold remained unchanged while prices per unit fell by 4%. Condo (townhouse) listings decreased by 21%, and sales increased by 5%, while average price per unit increased by 2%.

With the exception of Condo (apt and patio.) style, every other type of accommodation increased in average price between 2014 and 2015 along with strong performance for units sold in every category. (note: all statistics are an average of 12 months-to-date).

Housing Construction

(Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, latest data available)
There were 162 housing starts in Nanaimo in the first quarter of 2015, which is an increase of 49% from the same quarter in 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, 59% more single-family homes were built compared to first quarter 2014.  Semi and row housing built decreased by 15 units in the first quarter comparisons while Apartment and other type increased by 33 units (48%).
In 2014, 318 single family dwellings were built and 347 were multi-family dwellings.  In 2015, the single family housing construction is predicted to decrease by 2.5% (8 units) and multiple dwellings to decrease by 2% (7 Units).  Overall new housing construction in 2015 is estimated to decrease by 2.3% over 2014 levels.  The forecast for 2016 is 320 single family homes and 380 for multiple units.  This will be an increase of 7.7% over 2015 levels.  CMHC forecasts 320 single family homes and 380 multiple units for 2016 for a total of 700 units for 2016.
Housing starts for BC are forecast to total 28,300 homes in 2015 and 29,000 homes in 2016.  As of CMHC's latest forecast, BC economy is forecast to expand by 2.8% in 2015 and 2.9% in 2016.  The expected growth in US economy, coupled with a lower Canadian dollar will help grow BC exports.  Employment growth is forecast to pick up during 2015 and 2016, compared to 2014.  Population is projected to grow just over one percent per year, adding approximately 30,000 households annually.  While international migrants will be the main source of population growth, people moving to BC from other provinces will also add to population growth.  After seeing net outflows in 2012 and 2013, net interprovincial migration turned positive in the first half of 2014.  This trend is expected to continue during the 2014-2016 forecast period.


Rental Market

  • (Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
  • ** data suppressed to protect confidentiality or data not statistically reliable
Average rents increased in almost every category for both private apartments and row housing types. Vacancy rates decreased in each category in the spring of 2015 compared to spring of 2014.  Overall vacancy rates decreased by 2.4 percentage points for private apartment types, and by 2.9 percentage points for private row (townhouse) type.  Although fairly insignificant increase ($14), the largest increase in average rent was for 1 bedroom apartment and row housing type.  The largest drop in vacancies was for 2 bedroom row housing (3.4 percentage points).

The number of total apartment units available for rent increased from 3,527 to 3,549 as did the number of row housing units from 3744 to 3762.
(Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The most recent Census (2011) indicated that 26% of Nanaimo residents rent the dwelling they live in, while 74% own their home. 
The rental vacancy rate for Nanaimo region has been declining steadily since spring of 2013 (8.3%) per graph above.  In the spring of 2015 the vacancy rate was 2.9%, while one year earlier the vacancy rate was 5.3%.  

Seniors' Housing

Demand for seniors' housing in British Columbia outpaced supply, pushing vacancy rates lower across all bedroom counts, all regions and all rent ranges.  In Nanaimo vacancy rates dropped in most categories with the exception of bachelor type accommodation (+ 1.1pp). Rents decreased in every category of Independent living spaces.

Independent living suites are found in seniors' complexes where the majority of the residents are aged 65 years or older, on-site meal services are provided, and the residents receive less than 1.5 hours of health care per day.   In BC the overall average rent for an independent living space was $2,868 per month in 2015, up from $ 2,811 in 2014. In Nanaimo the rent decreased from $2,650 to $2,478 over the year.  Seniors'housing vacancy rate for Nanaimo region has been dropping significantly over the past five years (i.e. 18.2% in 2012 compared to 7.5% in 2015).

Building Permits

Source: City of Nanaimo
The City of Nanaimo issued 248 building permits valued at $59.5 million in the second quarter of 2015. The value of permits issued decreased by 30% in the second quarter 2015 compared to second quarter 2014. In comparison to first quarter 2015 building permit values in the second quarter increased by 84%.
87% of the building permit values in Q2 2015 were for residential construction.  6% of total value was for commercial projects, followed by 5% for Public and 2% for Industrial and less than 1% for miscellaneous permits. In Q2 2014, residential projects accounted for 41% of total building permit values followed by 40% for commercial units and 19% for Public.


Business Licenses

Source: City of Nanaimo

In the second quarter of 2015, 189 new businesses obtained a City of Nanaimo business license. This is a 11% increase from the same quarter in 2014.  It is a 7% increase from the first quarter in 2015.


Tourism Indicators/Passenger Volumes

(Source: Nanaimo Airport)
78,070 passengers moved through the Nanaimo Airport in the second quarter of 2015.   This is an increase of 17% from the second quarter of 2014. Overall traffic through the Vancouver International Airport was up 5.3% in May 2015 compared to 2014. Note: June data for YVR not released at the time of this publication. Year-to-date passenger traffic through the Nanaimo airport in June is 14% higher in 2015 compared to one year ago. 

(Source: BC Ferries Corporation)
The amount of vehicle traffic between Departure Bay and Horshoe Bay increased by 2.79% (8,409 vehicles) in the second quarter of 2015, compared to second quarter 2014.  Passenger volumes also increased by 2.87% (24,130 passengers) on this route. 
Vehicle traffic between Tsawwassen and Duke Point increased by 9.0% (14,719 vehicles) in the second quarter of 2015, compared to second quarter in 2014.  Passenger volumes increased by 7.72% on this route (27,577 passengers).  Overall in the last two years BC Ferries has made some gains in ridership after many years of reporting declines.

(Source: Chemistry Consulting Group, Vancouver Island Conference Centre, Tourism Nanaimo)
Average occupancy reported by the accommodation sector was 1.12% higher in June 2015 compared to June 2014.  Average daily room rates increased by $10.00 year-over-year during the month of June.  Revenue available per room increased by $8.25 in June 2015. 

Year to date overall occupancy at the end of June was up by 3.04% in 2015 compared to 2014.  Nanaimo's room  rate average increased by $6.53 in 2015, while overall revenue available per room increased by $7.07 due to higher occupancy and higher room rates.

The number of visitors coming into Tourism Information centers' to obtain information on the region decreased by 13.11% in the second quarter of 2015 over second quarter 2014.  Overall visitor volumes for 2015 are 6.24% above those of 2014.  The Vancouver Island Conference centre  reported an increase of 89.91% in delegate days at the end of June 2015 compared to June 2014.