Demographic Information

Posted at May 23, 2010

I was browsing through magazines the other day and read an article about people’s experiences living in condos in Vancouver. In addition to boomers talking about the convenience of downsizing, there was an offhand mention that 40% of Vancouverites live in condos.


When people think of the city, they think almost exclusively of downtown with all its highrises and coffeeshops and impossibly fit people running along the seawall. Fact is, most of Vancouver is just like any other North American city — houses upon houses, just squeezed onto smaller lots. The signature Vancouver building style is the Vancouver Special [pics], whose blandness and ubiquity led the city to attempt to ban the building of them in the 80s. Sure, the new development is all condo towers, but… 40%?

It might be true.

According to the 2006 census, Vancouver’s “Occupied dwellings by housing type” has 149,510 apartment units, or 59% of all dwellings. For apartments, the ownership vs. renting ratio for the whole area is 41% vs. 59%, suggesting that 23.6% of dwellings are condos.

But hold up, the census considers apartments and condominiums equivalent. But they’re not. Many condos in Vancouver are rented out — the site for 2300 Kingsway even uses it as a selling point -- so we can’t just rely on the ownership vs. renting ratio.

So now in order to get some figures, I have to make up numbers (yay!). Local developers stopped building apartment buildings ages ago in favour of condos. If you assume that all units built before 1990 are apartments, and all units afterwards are condos (Vancouver’s condo boom started in the 90s), then you get 113 204.15 condo dwellings, or 44% of all dwellings in Vancouver.

(I couldn’t find any data of people per dwelling vs. dwelling type, so I must leave those numbers uncrunched.)

I’m fudging the numbers a lot, but even the notion that most people live in either apartments or condos is impressive. And scary. And totally not what I expected.