Here's a quick overview:
Real estate was a dominant issue in the Tri-Cities in 2016, with dramatic stories about house prices rising, concerns about affordability, the impact of foreign investment and government intervention.
As early as January, 2016, The Tri-City News reported that homes in some neighbourhoods had risen as much as 20% in value based on assessments, bumping many of them over the million-dollar mark.
The problem, pointed out by realtors, is local residents were being priced out of their own community unless they want to downsize and, with the inventory shrinking for single-family homes and the demand up, prices were expected to continue to rise.
Soon, concerns were being raised about affordability across Metro Vancouver, with numerous fixes proposed, including a housing affordability surcharge. Municipal red tape and development fees were also blamed for high prices, a charge refuted by local mayors, including Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
The issue of foreign buyers arose in Port Coquitlam with councillors calling for the province to impose a foreign investment tax and some residents complaining that entire neighbourhoods were being bought up for investment leaving homes empty.
The benchmark price for a home in PoCo in April was $846,100, making it one of the most affordable areas in the Lower Mainland. While PoCo council debated the effect of foreign investment on the value of real estate, a city report said the blame doesn't lie with overseas buyers; instead, B.C.'s strong economy, low bank interest rates and good mortgage terms were likely boosting demand.
In Port Moody, the city started looking at how it's going to develop several of its key properties, which include the public works yard, the Kyle Centre site and the property of the former Fire Hall No. 1 as well as what the future holds for the Coronation Park area near Inlet Centre. With the future of the Ioco lands still in question, the city decided to look into options for the David Avenue connector through Bert Flynn Park at the request of a vocal group of residents.
Coquitlam vetted numerous development proposals, especially around the Evergreen Extension, with a public hearing for a 49-storey building next to the new Burquitlam SkyTrain Station. The proponents, Marcon Clarke Homes Ltd. and Kevington Building Corporation, are also proposing to build a 15-storey rental building on the site.
As well, the city is planning for more land development in its visioning process for northwest Burke Mountain, where between 6,500 and 13,500 residents could live in the future.
The real estate industry itself came under fire with concerns about shadow flipping, prompting tighter rules and higher fines to promote transparency. In the summer, the province released figures that showed foreign nationals bought 5.1% of the homes sold in Metro Vancouver in June.
On Aug. 1, the province implemented a 15% foreign buyers tax, with home sales slowing in the fall, partly due to the tax, but because of other fundamentals and government intervention, including the tightening of mortgage rules.
However, in September, The Tri-City News reported that experts were predicting a mild price correction but higher prices over the long term in the region because of a lack of supply. They cited factors such as the limited land base in the Lower Mainland and the projected 1.25 million additional people forecast to come to B.C. by 2041 as the reason for the increased upward pressure on real estate values.
Concerns about the lack of rental accommodations prompted a study of Airbnb rentals in the Tri-Cities, with The News reporting nearly 140 Airbnb listings here, and few were operating with official licenses.
Coquitlam council approved the first purpose-built rental apartment building at Charland Avenue and Blue Mountain Street and announced it had $2.5 million in an affordable housing reserve and was looking for partners.
Meanwhile, for those who found themselves without housing, the Coquitlam homeless shelter at 3030 Gordon Avenue opened in late December, 2015 and by January, 2016, was full.