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2021 Census: Home ownership on the rise in Nelson

Households that rent are decreasing within the city
A new home is seen here under construction in Nelson. The city has seen a rise in house owners since 2016. Photo: Tyler Harper

Home ownership in Nelson appears to be trending in a different direction than the rest of B.C. and Canada.

The latest 2021 census data made public by Statistics Canada on Sept. 21 shows 3,125 households own their homes, which is up from 2,945 counted during the 2016 census.

The number of renting households meanwhile have fallen marginally from 1,915 to 1,825 over five years.

Those stats run contrary to what is happening outside the city. The new data shows declining ownership in B.C. and Canada. Renting is on the rise nationally, with B.C. leading Canada in the number of renter households.

The census doesn’t show if renting is dropping in Nelson due to a decrease in rentable units or a dearth of listings, but it isn’t likely for lack of demand. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation listed Nelson’s vacancy rate in 2020 at 0.5 per cent.

The Nelson Committee on Homelessness, which is expected to release its latest Report Card on Homelessness within the month, also found a rise of secondary suites to 565 in 2020. The city said in July there were also 79 licences for short-term rentals, which allow for accommodation of up to 30 days.

Statistics Canada also shows a drop in what is considered unaffordable housing in Nelson, albeit with a high rate of residents spending more than they should on shelter.

Unaffordable housing is defined as costing more than 30 per cent of a household’s income before tax. In Nelson, 22 per cent of, or 1,125, households spend more than the 30-per-cent threshold. That’s an improvement of nine per cent from 2016, and below the provincial mark of 25 per cent.

The census also shows, unsurprisingly, that it is becoming ever more expensive to become a home owner. The average value of dwellings in Nelson in 2021 was $587,500, compared to $375,227 in 2016.

Most of those homes were built at least 40 years ago. Nearly half of Nelson’s private dwellings, or 2,265, were built on or prior to 1960 while 1,120 were constructed between 1961 and 1980. Just 220 were built between 2016 and 2021.

The housing market hasn’t stunted Nelson’s growth since 2016. The city’s population has grown to over 11,000, and 2021 census data shows residents are making more money than they did five years earlier.

There was little change meanwhile in the rural areas that surround Nelson.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Electoral Area F, which includes the communities of Beasley, Taghum, Grohman, Six Mile and Bonnington, there are 1,525 owner households and just 235 renter homes.

Area E, including Blewett, Balfour, Queens Bay, Harrop, Procter and Nelson to Cottonwood Lake, has 1,465 owner households and 335 renting homes.

Indigenous population

The latest census release also shows Nelson’s Indigenous population has remained mostly unchanged over five years.

In the city, 585 people (295 men, 285 women) self identify as Indigenous, an increase of just five people since 2016. Of those, 300 residents identify as Métis. First Nations data doesn’t specify individual nations such as the Ktunaxa.

There are also 290 Indigenous people living in Area E, while 150 reside in Area F.


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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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