The City of Langley issued $100.8 million in building permits in 2017, more than double the $46.2 million issued during the previous year.
That’s according to new statistics released by mayor Ted Schaffer.
“It’s an all-time record,” said Schaffer, who thinks Langley City could do even better this year.
The mayor said the surge in development was because the City is strategically located as the eastern gateway to Metro Vancouver and has managed to keep it’s small-city “atmosphere and community spirit while offering the amenities of a major urban centre.”
It was the first time Langley City passed the $100 million mark in building permits and much of it was the result of an increase in multi-family condos, townhouses and market rentals, from 128 residential units worth $22.4 million in 2016 to 421 residential units with a value of $77.7 million in 2017.
In all, 368 building permits were issued in 2017 compared to 333 the previous year.
Over the previous five years, building permits have averaged $41.5 million a year.
The previous all-time record for building permits issued was $61.2 million, set in 1994.
Last year, The Times reported that the City Development Services department was handling more than double the usual number of projects.
They were mostly larger residential developments.
City planners cited several factors that combined to create the increase in development activity — location, cost and efficiency.
“Developers are a key partner in helping us implement our vision for the future,” Schaffer said.
“Their investment in housing and modern commercial development helps generate job growth an economic prosperity for the community. We highly value their contribution and we work hard at maintaining our reputation as having the most efficient and streamlined development process in the region.”
A Fraser Institute study found Langley City posted the fastest approval times in all of Metro Vancouver for housing permits, averaging around 1.6 months.
It’s a big selling point, considering some Metro areas can take more than a year to process development applications.
The city has processed a project in as little as 13 days.
It is located fairly close to the core of Metro Vancouver, but without the skyrocketing prices seen in other cities.
That makes builders who want to attract cost-conscious buyers pay attention to a community where most housing prices are running a quarter to a third less than the rest of the Lower Mainland.
A report “Home Stretch: Comparing housing affordability in B.C.’s hottest markets” by Vancity rated the smaller of the two Langleys at the top of the 10 most affordable municipalities in the Lower Mainland, with a median price of $271,250 for all property types (detached, attached and condo apartments), requiring 18.4 per cent of an average household monthly income to cover mortgage costs, property taxes and maintenance costs.
That compares to the far-more-expensive West Vancouver, number one on the list of the 10 least affordable municipalities, with a median price of $2.8 million, where buyers need double an average monthly income to cover mortgage, taxes and maintenance.
Add to that, the fact the City has kept development cost charges under control, winning a “Municipal Excellence Award” from the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association Vancouver chapter (formerly known as the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks).
NAIOP declared the City a winner in the “Most Improved” category in its 14th annual Regional Industrial Development Cost Survey, which showed the City recorded an 18 per cent drop in overall development costs.
While Langley City is only 10 square kilometers with a population of 27,283, the tax rates (commercial to residential mill rates) are among the lowest in the region according to a 2016 survey.
A Langley City fact sheet states housing costs in the municipality are are 65 per cent lower than Vancouver and retail leasing costs from four to 10 times less than Downtown Vancouver.
It notes the city enjoys one of the best shopping areas in the region; 300 acres of parks; popular entertainment facilities like the Cascades Casino and Convention Centre; and Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the Langley Community Music School.
Average housing costs in Langley City were, as of February 2017, $864,000 for a detached house, $495,000 for a townhouse, and $300,000 for an apartment.
Commercial lease space averages between $8 to $35 per sq. ft. in Langley City, whereas Downtown Vancouver retail space can be as high as $100 to $250 per sq. ft.
The Township of Langley, meanwhile, recorded $511 million in building permits in 2017, up from $444 million the year before.