Im­mi­gra­tion drives hous­ing sec­tor, econ­omy

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - Iy !ike !oore

THE num­ber of house­holds in Canada has been go­ing up at a rate of 1.4% per year over the past 20 years. One fac­tor is smaller house­holds. In 1961, half of all Cana­dian house­holds had four or more peo­ple liv­ing in them. By 2011, two-thirds of all Cana­dian house­holds had two or fewer peo­ple.

The sec­ond ma­jor fac­tor, of course, is im­mi­gra­tion, es­pe­cially in the 20 – 44 age group, the one most crit­i­cal for house­hold for­ma­tion. This age de­mo­graphic grew by 147,000 last year; with­out im­mi­gra­tion, it would have shrunk, like most of the de­vel­oped world. In fact, this age group ac­counts for 55% of all im­mi­grants to Canada, bod­ing well for growth, de­vel­op­ment and a stronger econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ar­ti­cle in the Globe and Mail, a mil­lion jobs are ex­pected to go un­filled across Canada be­tween now and 2021. It as­serted that we need to rad­i­cally boost im­mi­gra­tion num­bers in or­der to be an in­no­va­tive world power or risk drain­ing away our po­ten­tial. It cited Stein­bach as the per­fect ex­am­ple of a com­mu­nity that has been grow­ing and thriv­ing due, in large part, to an ag­gres­sive im­mi­gra­tion strat­egy.

The CMHC stud­ied hous­ing pat­terns of im­mi­grants in both large and medium sized Cana­dian cen­tres. It looked at those in search of af­ford­able hous­ing in or­der to get started in a new coun­try, but also those who brought wealth and a ca­pac­ity to gen­er­ate wealth through en­trepreneur­ship. The study broke down hous­ing pat­terns and pref­er­ences, in­clud­ing those who pre­fer sub­ur­ban set­tle­ment and na­tion­al­ity trends to­wards home own­er­ship ver­sus rental. The hous­ing pat­terns of im­mi­grants did not dif­fer rad­i­cally from those of Cana­dian born house­holds, per­haps ex­plain­ing why they chose to live in par­tic­u­lar cities.

The Our Winnipeg plan calls for a pop­u­la­tion growth of 180,000 peo­ple over a 20 year pe­riod. This will only hap­pen if our re­cent im­mi­gra­tion suc­cesses con­tinue over that time pe­riod. For Winnipeg to be a truly great city, we must em­brace this in­ter­na­tional way of think­ing and take full ad­van­tage of the skills and at­tributes that our new res­i­dents bring. As it re­lates to hous­ing, we must en­cour­age new growth and de­vel­op­ment while also bol­ster­ing our ex­ist­ing hous­ing stock. This mo­bil­ity in hous­ing choice and af­ford­abil­ity will keep our doors open to a new and vi­brant pop­u­la­tion. To do any­thing to dis­cour­age or sti­fle peo­ple from mov­ing to and liv­ing in the city would be a huge dis­ser­vice to our fu­ture growth and great­ness.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Manitoba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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