Top two B.C. real estate investment towns are up north, third near Lower Mainland

Mission’s historic downtown disguises a go-to town that is attracting real estate investors from across the Lower Mainland. | Submitted

The top two spots, according to BIV’s sister publication Western Investor, in B.C. for real estate investors in 2019 are in the northwest part of the province, which is ground zero for the biggest private investment in Canadian history. The third spot is not far from the Lower Mainland.

1. Kitimat

Kitimat

Kitimat has been chosen for the $40 billion LNG Canada terminus and pipeline project, the biggest private development investment in Canadian history. | Submitted

In October, LNG Canada confirmed it would proceed with the $40 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminus and pipeline network that will change Kitimat forever.

It will also likely change the fortunes of those real estate investors quick enough to get into town. Despite work camps springing up to house the estimated 6,000 construction workers, the real estate play in Kitimat is residential rentals. A lot of management types, consultants, government officials and other professionals will be seeking two-to-three-year rentals in Kitimat, said Jason Pender of JV Development Group. His company is in a joint venture rushing to complete a 27-acre project with 94 townhomes, more than 30 detached-house lots and a 12-acre modular home site.

Kitimat is also on the radar of international investors. 

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is the lead partner in LNG Canada, with a 40%. The project is rounded out by Malaysia’s Petronas, which holds 25%, PetroChina and Japan-based Mitsubishi, which each hold 15%, and Korea Gas Corp. (5%).

2. Terrace

Terrace

Terrace has the land to become the staging area for neighbouring Kitimat’s massive LNG development. A China-based company has cleared nearly 800 acres of industrial land in preparation for the coming boom. Terrace also has the only airport in northwest B.C. | City of Terrace Economic Development

Kitimat has the LNG plant, but neighbouring land-rich Terrace makes the Western Investor list at No. 2. 

“We have the land,” said Danielle Myles, manager of economic development for the City of Terrace. A key parcel is the 1,187 acres of industrial-zoned land bought four years ago by China-based Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ) for $11.8 million. The land is in the city’s massive Skeena Industrial Development Park. QETDZ has cleared nearly 800 acres of land for development as part of its $100 million preparation budget. 

Myles expects Terrace to be the staging site for much of the work for the LNG plant in Kitimat, which is a half-hour drive away. Terrace, unlike Kitimat, also has an airport and established and extensive retail, fitting a city that is known as the trading centre for northwest B.C. Commercial building permits in Terrace have soared nearly 300% over the past two years. You can still buy a detached house in town for an average of $337,000, up 18% from a year ago. 

3. Abbotsford-Mission

Abbotsford

 

One of the fastest-growing cities in B.C., Abbotsford is known for cutting-edge medical and aeronautics industries and services, expansive agriculture and affordable housing. | City of Abbotsford

The list has combined two neighbouring centres, Abbotsford and Mission, for the No. 2 spot. Abbotsford-Mission is on the eastern edge of the Lower Mainland and is a real estate pressure valve for both residential and industrial plays. The area is feeling its own population pressure as more people from Metro Vancouver are moving in looking for work and affordable housing. As of September, 1,567 new homes were under construction in the area, including nearly 300 new detached houses, which sell for an average of $843,900. 

Abbotsford’s industrial vacancy rate has plunged to 1.8% this year, which is among the lowest rates in the Lower Mainland, and the industrial lease rate averages $9.17 per square foot. The city has a robust infrastructure with an award-winning cancer hospital and the fourth-busiest airport in Canada. Abbotsford is also the agriculture capital of Canada, with gross farm receipts three times those of Ontario’s Niagara region, which is in second place. 

As Abbotsford fills up, Mission is seen as the next industrial destination. The district of Mission has easy freeway access, is just 15 minutes from the U.S. border and is seen as ideal for distribution facilities. There are two main industrial parks in the Mission area: Mission Industrial Park, which allows light industry, warehouse, office use and even accessory retail; and Silver Creek Industrial Park, which has direct railway and Fraser River frontage for heavier industrial. 

Western Investor