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Langley Township sees sudden burst of development approvals

Developers rushed to get projects approved before the election
Condos under construction in Langley in August, 2022. (Langley Advance Times files)

Rising interest rates have slowed housing sales and cooled prices from this spring’s peak in Langley, but the pace of construction and development remains high.

“What we’re seeing is more and more multi-family [development],” said Ramin Seifi, general manager of engineering and community development at Langley Township.

In the first half of the year, Township stats showed that the number of multi-family units that had received building permits was way down from past years.

From January through to the end of June, just 235 multi-family units – townhouses and condos – were approved. That was less than half the five-year average. In 2020, more than 1,000 units of multi-family housing had been approved in the first six months of the year.

However, Seifi said the low numbers in the first half of the year were more of a blip than anything else.

At the last council meeting in July, the final meeting before the fall municipal election, the Township council voted in favour of development permits for 561 units of townhouses, along with 59 single family homes, spread across seven separate projects.

The low numbers towards the beginning of the year are more of a blip than a trend, Seifi said.

National housing construction statistics show that Langley is moving in the same direction as much of the rest of the country.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the trend line for new housing starts was for an annual 264,426 units in July, up from 257,862 units in June.

For years, Canada was building about 200,000 homes a year, but that number jumped in 2020, and has remained well above it ever since.

In Langley Township, the recent rush of development permit approvals was about developers wanting to get their projects in front of council before the election, avoiding the two-month break, Seifi noted.

There are already a significant number of development projects in the pipeline with municipal staff, too, Seifi said.

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He noted that there have also not yet been development permits issued for two high rise towers planned for construction in Willoughby, although council has already approved the rezonings for the sites.

While housing prices spiked in 2020 through to this spring, and are now dropping as interest rates go up, Seifi noted that the development cycle is longer.

“Our development cycles are about three, four years long,” he said.

From developers beginning to plan their project, to bringing it before council, to final approvals, to construction takes several years, he noted.

That extends beyond swings in the real estate market.

Seifi said that despite the current downward dip in home prices, he expects the longer-term trends to continue, with Langley among the fastest-growing communities in the Lower Mainland.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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