Last summer, we wrote a handful of blog posts to help you understand exactly why we’ve positioned our business in Duncan on Vancouver Island. To outsiders, it may be an unfamiliar location, but we explained how there’s really “energy” in the area that gives a reason for consumers, business owners, and developers to enter the market. Booming population growth higher than the national average, coupled with incoming infrastructure upgrades and low vacancy rates made this a prime location for us to grow.
Our goal has always been to help solve the housing crisis here in the area, and we’re well on our way to doing so. Since we wrote last summer, there have been numerous updates to infrastructure developments, the demand for housing has grown, and we’ve made progress with the Duncan Official Community Plan.
Let’s get into it.
New Developments and Updates
Police Station Updates
The $49M North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment is well on its way, with estimated completion in fall of this year. Not only will this facility be home to the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, it will also bring together Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, Indigenous Policing, and municipal and provincial officers under one roof.
We’re watching Duncan grow into an even greater hub for the Island in real time, which solidifies that housing here is needed more than ever.
Hospital Replacement Update
Pre-construction work began in late 2022 for the replacement project for Duncan’s Cowichan District Hospital. The replacement is now projected to cost $1.45B with construction expected to be complete in Fall of 2027. The new hospital will have capacity for 204 inpatient beds and service much of the broader Cowichan Valley Regional District.
This is huge for the Cowichan Valley community and will bring a shift towards community-centered care. A hospital of this size will bring more doctors, nurses, and surgeons to the area to provide necessary medical services to residents of Duncan and the greater Cowichan Valley.
Cowichan Secondary School Now on Shared Campus with VIU
Progress is underway with the $82M Cowichan Secondary School replacement project, and will be built on University Way, next to the Vancouver Island University Cowichan Campus. The initial capacity of the building will be 1,100 students with the ability to expand to accommodate an additional 400 in the future.
With a location essentially shared with the VIU campus, it’s expected there will be more of a push to keep students on The Island as they transition into post-secondary education, which is great news for continuing to grow the number of educated and skilled workers on The Island.
Rowing Centre Development
If you’re not familiar with rowing, you might not know that Quamichan Lake will soon be home to a national rowing training centre. The slow, protected body of water at Quamichan makes it an ideal place for rowing all year round.
Last summer, it was announced that the second phase of four-stage development would begin on the centre, and we’re anticipating completion this summer.
This will be the first ever purpose-build rowing facility in Canada and will accommodate the six-lane, 2000-meter racecourse needed for daily training and races.
The Island has become a hub for rowing and with the upcoming completion of the centre, we can expect more foot traffic in from across the country and the globe to attend trials and regattas. We’re confident the completed center will create more “buzz” around Vancouver Island.
Stunning view over Quamichan Lake.
Desperate Housing Need
Development on The Island has grown tenfold over the past few years and with this growth comes a flood of construction workers to help complete projects. But there’s a problem. We don’t have nearly enough housing on The Island to accommodate all these workers. Many of them have no choice but to stay anywhere from 30 minutes to upwards of an hour away from their work sites due to limited vacancies.
This housing need is desperate. Projects will come to a halt if we can’t find a way to house the temporary workers needed to keep these projects running. To put it into perspective, one report we’ve seen indicates a 2400 deep waitlist for 2-bedroom apartments in Duncan alone right now.
The Island market is incredibly sought after right now, not only for residential real estate but for industrial real estate too. Record vacancy rates are pushing increases on property value, upwards of 10-20% per year. We’re in the business of creating homes for the growing workforce of these companies.
The City of Duncan Official Community Plan has been put on pause since last fall due to concern about levels of public involvement with the plan, but we have seen movement on some key areas to our business since then.
The OCP Committee has recognized the importance of zoning, land use designations, and development to keep upcoming projects moving forward. They have made a suggestion to get sections pertaining to land development approved, and has since passed 1st and 2nd readings. It will enter a 3rd hearing on March 6th where the public can voice their thoughts and opinions on this plan. We don’t anticipate any substantial objections to this suggestion and expect it to be in place very soon.
These parts of the OCP are vital to our work and would benefit our project progress and that of some of the larger developments happening right now.
We’ll Keep You Updated
Lots is happening. We’re seeing massive shifts toward more people coming to Vancouver Island to live, to work, and to play. We’ve continued to see more and more people move to Vancouver Island – 5.2% net population growth between 2017 and 2021 to be exact. And this population growth of both long and short-term residents has put intense pressure on housing demand.
Needless to say, we’re well-positioned to take advantage of this growth.