Kevin Berger

Sooke building boom

Sooke will surpass more than $16 million in building permits this year

New homes are reaching taller skies in Sooke at record-breaking speeds, but local contractors face a significant shortage in skilled workers to keep up with demand.

Last year, Sooke issued $16 million in building permits, while this year it is expected to surpass that number well before the end of the year, said the Vancouver Island Construction Association in a recent report.

“I’ve never seen it like this … now everything is presold and we can’t get them up fast enough,” said Sooke contractor Kevin Berger, whose company does foundations, framing and siding in up-and-coming developments in Sunriver.

Ever since the construction boom began in the new year, he’s had a tough time finding skilled tradespeople to keep up with the demand in Sooke.

“I’m lucky. I’ve got eight guys working under me, and I could use another eight more,” he said, adding that last year his crew would put out eight houses on the market and stopped at that.

Berger said he tried advertising in Victoria for painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and general laborers, though many end up getting plucked by bigger companies either in Victoria or Langford.

Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Berger is happy to see the growth.

“I’ve got lots of work and I’m not sitting at home, so it’s great,” he said.

In 2015, the District of Sooke issued 182 building permits, which created 97 new units, noted chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan. Year to date, 164 permits were issued,  creating 129 units and still going strong.

“I expect by the end of December those numbers are going to remain on an upwards trajectory, so it’s really good news,” she said.

On Vancouver Island, the construction industry employs 34,200 people, with an increase of 9.6 per cent in the previous quarter, noted Greg Baynton, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.

“The construction industry [on Vancouver Island] is firing on all cylinders, but in Sooke, it’s almost exclusively 97 per cent residential,” Baynton said.

He added that part of what’s fueling demand on the Island are low interest rates, net in migration and short inventory of housing.

“We’re one of the only provinces or territories that’s boasting a vibrant economy, that’s attracting a lot of in-migration, including people who want to work in the construction industry, which is sort of exacerbating the housing challenges we have right now,” Baynton said.

And the construction bloom is not expected to stop anytime soon, either.

The amount of activity for the construction industry overall is going to flatten out a little bit in post-2018 and 2019, but it will be sustained at a level higher than we’ve historically ever seen out to 2024, Baynton said.

“This appears to be a long-term, sustainable level of investment across the industry, so it looks like we’re in for a pretty good ride for a few years yet.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Helping others, especially those struggling with mental health issues, keeps MOD Pizza owner Jim Hayden cooking. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)
A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

(Black Press Media file photo)
Spooky online class cooks up funds for Greater Victoria Imagination Library

United Way Greater Victoria offers how-to for witch cookies, tasty coffin as fundraiser

Premier-elect John Horgan, during a visit in Sidney, broadly promised improvements to transit among other issues in the riding of Saanich North and the Islands, even after voters re-elected BC Green Adam Olsen as Member of the Legislative Assembly. (Black Press Media file photo)
Premier-elect John Horgan promises to work with all MLAs

Horgan says his government will pay attention to Saanich North and the Islands

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read