Cost of rental housing projects doubles before construction begins in Vancouver

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CaDCR staff writer

The construction cost of two planned affordable rental projects in Vancouver has nearly doubled before starting.

Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee will vote today (Jan. 12) on new budgets for two affordable housing projects in Burnaby – a 174-unit redevelopment on a current townhouse site operated by Metro Vancouver, and a 122-unit building to be constructed on vacant land.

According to a staff the expected costs have increased to $121 million from $64 million for one project. The Stellar and to $94 million from $46 million for the other project, The Connection.

In October 2020, the MVHC Board directed staff to proceed with design and funding applications for the original design concept for The Stellar, a 122-unit rental building including an integrated childcare facility with a project budget of $45.5 million.

From 2021 to 2023, site studies were undertaken, an architect and design team was engaged, a construction management team was engaged, and the design and permitting for new building progressed through schematic design, design development and the rezoning application process.

Both projects were approved in 2020 with construction scheduled to begin this year.

Escalating construction costs, an increased parking area, and expansion of a child-care centre are listed as reasons for the cost increase.

Earlier this year, recognizing new residential projects are costing $600 per square foot, while the civic projects are topping $1,300 per square foot or more. Burnaby council voted to create an advisory panel to review upcoming major infrastructure projects.

Overbudget projects include:

  • C.G. Brown Pool and Burnaby Lake Arena, estimated at $187 million in March 2022 – jumped to $240.9 million
  • Confederation Park Community Centre, estimated at $127 million in August 2021 – jumped to $238 million
  • Cameron Community Centre, estimated at $249 million in March 2022 – jumped to $350 million
  • New RCMP detachment, estimated at $162.5 million in July 2023 – jumped to $202 million

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