2011 Census Highlights: Housing change by structure type in the Lower Mainland
The Urban Futures Institute

  • According to the just-released 2011 Census data, the occupied dwelling stock in BC’s Lower Mainland (the Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts) grew by 82,270 units over the previous five years, reaching a total of 1,008,105 units in 2011. This represented nine percent growth over the period. As a point of comparison, the 2001 to 2006 Census period saw the regional dwelling stock grow by eight percent as 68,490 new dwellings were added.


  • Compared to this regional average, Port Moody experienced the greatest relative growth in its dwelling stock, increasing by 25 percent between 2006 and 2011 (adding 2,500 net new dwellings).

  • Surrey had the second-fastest growing dwelling stock in the region at 17 percent. Over the past five years Surrey accounted for 26 percent of all net new housing additions in the Lower Mainland (21,700 additional units).

  • The City of Vancouver’s occupied dwelling stock expanded more slowly than the Lower Mainland as a whole, growing by four percent. The City of Vancouver did, however, add the second-largest absolute number of units at 11,195 (well below the 21,700 added in Surrey).

  • A number of municipalities saw their dwelling stock grow more slowly than the regional average, namely West Vancouver, North Vancouver District, Delta and White Rock. Two municipalities—Whistler and Lions Bay—actually saw their stock of occupied dwellings fall slightly between 2006 and 2011.

  • In 2006 Surrey accounted for 17 percent of the region’s ground oriented dwelling stock. Between 2006 and 2011, however, Surrey added 16,825 ground oriented dwellings and accounted for almost 40 percent of the ground oriented dwellings that were added throughout the region.

  • Further, with only five percent of the region’s ground oriented dwelling stock in 2006, the District Municipality of Langley accounted for eight percent of the ground oriented additions between 2006 and 2011.

  • Relative to its 18 percent share of ground oriented units in 2006, the City of Vancouver accounted for only six percent of the additional ground oriented units added between 2006 and 2011.

  • The region’s suburban communities (including Langley Township, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, and Abbotsford, as well as Richmond and Burnaby) accounted for between five and eight percent of the growth in ground oriented dwellings region-wide. All other municipalities accounted for less than three percent of the additions.

  • In terms of the apartment stock, the City of Vancouver accounted for the greatest share of net additions in the Lower Mainland between 2006 and 2011 at 22 percent. Over this five-year period 8,325 new apartments were added in the City.

  • A significant share of the growth in apartments was also accounted for in Burnaby (6,510) and New Westminster (2,805). Interestingly, Burnaby and New Westminster combined added more apartment units than did the City of Vancouver (9,315 versus 8,325).

  • Burnaby (17 percent), Surrey (13 percent), Richmond (11 percent), and New Westminster (seven percent) each accounted for a significant proportion of the growth in apartment units in the Lower Mainland between 2006 and 2011. Each of these municipalities saw a greater share of apartment growth when compared to their share of the region’s 2006 apartment stock (Burnaby represented only ten percent of the regional apartment stock in 2006, Surrey nine percent, Richmond six percent, and New Westminster five percent).