More than a quarter of Lloydminster apartments are currently vacant.
According to the latest report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, rental vacancy is a growing problem across both Alberta and Saskatchewan. To the east, Weyburn and Estevan are facing similar rates, with Estevan currently sitting at 27.6 for vacancy. Across Alberta, the highest rate was reported in the Cold Lake area, with 26.2 per cent of apartments vacant, followed up by Grande Prairie and Sylvan Lake at 19.8 and 19.2.
Ward Read, the chief executive officer of the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation, said that the high rental vacancy rates were not normal, but not unsurprising, given the long-term economic situation in Lloydminster.
However, he did say that the situation may be on a slow rise back up, echoing the viewpoint of Todd Hirsch, the chief economist for ATB Financial, though the labour market may be slow to pick back up again.
“How all those things sort out together may take some time, but we may be very slowly, incrementally, beginning the trek upwards,” said Read.
Read said that the rates would also have been impacted by an increase in housing supply, while demand fell away. His example of the process was of two large apartment complexes coming on the market in Lloydminster in the last two years, which added around 300 units to the local rental market.
“We’ve had an unfortunate perfect storm of having demand fall away, the same time we got a bump in supply,” said Read.
“I think it makes sense, given those two things. If those 300 units hadn’t had come on, we’d still have higher than normal vacancy, but it wouldn’t be showing as high as it is now, but that’s not the fact of what happened. “
Read expected the vacancy rates to be stable until next year.