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Record growth in two Sask. cities adds to fastest rent increases in 10 years


Rental costs in Saskatchewan's two largest cities are rising at some of the fastest rates in the country.

A national report on residential rental prices from and Urbanation show rental prices in Regina have risen 19.6 per cent in the last year — the most of any major city in Canada.

Rent in Saskatoon costs 3.7 per cent more than it did last month and 11.2 per cent more than it did in February 2023.

"It means the rental market virtually has no excess units in it right now, which is making it extremely hard for tenants to find places to rent," Saskatchewan Landlord Association CEO Cam Choquette said.

"And it's driving rents up significantly more than what we've seen over the past five to 10 years."

The average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Saskatoon is $1,192. A two-bedroom unit is averaging at $1,411.

The average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Regina is $1,225. Rent for a two-bedroom unit is averaging at $1,410.

Choquette says homebuilders continue to build multi-dwelling units intended for rental use at a steady pace, but Saskatchewan's record immigration in 2023 is simply outpacing new builds.

"What we've seen in the last couple of years post-COVID is a significant growth in population, which is driving rental demand to a place that we haven't seen it really in about 10 years," he said.

"And with that population growth, that puts a lot of pressure on the rental market to build faster and to build more units."

Choquette says there were more than 1,000 new rental units added in Saskatoon in 2023, but Saskatoon's vacancy rate remained at two per cent.

At the city's governance and priorities committee Wednesday, councillors learned Saskatoon's population has exceeded 300,000 people, largely due to record immigration.

Using data from Statistics Canada, from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023, Saskatoon's population grew by an estimated 17,000 people, a record number.

"It kind of sets the context of where Saskatoon has come from and where Saskatoon might still be going," the city's chief public policy and government relations officer Mike Jordan said when he presented the data to the committee.

"We're a growing city, a young city, there's lots of opportunity in the city. Public amenities should support that."

In 2023, Saskatchewan’s population surpassed 1.2 million adding 30,685 net new residents for a growth rate of 2.6 per cent. The estimated annual growth in 2023 was almost double that of the next highest year, in 2009.

Between 2007 and 2023, Saskatoon is estimated to have added a total of over 122,000 persons in the metropolitan area and just over 94,000 within Saskatoon's borders.

"We tend to take in roughly 97 to 98 per cent of all immigrants that come to the region," Jordan said.

Choquette says record growth should be met with earnest development as the federal government continues to direct money into its Housing Accelerator Fund.

"Municipalities need to prioritize getting out of the way of housing development, focusing on densification and allowing developers to build rental construction, wherever it's suitable and fits the community," Choquette said.

As rental prices continue to increase and vacancy continues to dwindle, Choquette is beginning to wonder where some of the city's newcomers will live.

"Where are new Saskatchewan residents staying? There continues to be an increase in occupants in properties where folks are getting roommates and other arrangements," Choquette said.

"We're worried that a supply crunch like this will impact our ability to grow and welcome people into the province." Top Stories

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