LNG deal exposes housing shortage
October 11, 2018
New townhouses have opened in Fort St. John, B.C. - Western Canadian Properties
Four years of hype and missed deadlines on resource projects cooled housing construction in northern B.C. communities, but builders are now scrambling to match demand for homes following confirmation that a $40 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant is coming to town.
“This is the biggest private sector investment in Canadian history,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Vancouver press conference on October 1.
LNG Canada, a consortium that includes Royal Dutch Shell and Asian resource companies, said it would proceed with an LNG export terminal at Kitimat on the west coast and link it with more than 600 kilometres of new pipelines to the gas fields in northeast B.C.
“We had 80 houses for sale 40 hours ago. Now we have less than 10,” said Re/Max Kitimat real estate agent Shannon Dos Santos on October 3.
Few homes have been built in Kitimat since 2004. Kerkoff Construction and JV Development Group shelved a 47-unit townhouse project there four years ago, but are now moving fast to get it off the ground.
In Fort St. John, near the centre of the LNG gas fields and the second-largest city in northern B.C., Western Canadian Properties is doing a phased development of 100 townhouses, with prices starting at $299,000.
Dos Santos said Kitimat home sellers are raising prices in anticipation of the influx of at least 6,000 workers needed to build the LNG project. However, she noted, most construction workers will be housed in large work camps outside of Kitimat, which has a population of less than 9,000.