Census data suggests more families, potentially empty homes in Langley – Aldergrove Star
Census data shows Langley has more potentially empty homes than five years ago, even though the number of people per occupied dwelling has increased.
Census Canada surveys distinguish between all houses in a city and those that are “occupied by usual residents”.
In Langley Township in 2021, there were 49,011 total dwellings, from condos to houses to mobile homes, but 46,928 of those were considered occupied full-time, leaving 2,083 remaining.
In Langley, there were 13,271 units in total, and 12,598 of them were full-time, with 673 leaving.
This means that 4.2% of homes in the township were unoccupied at the 2021 census, and 5% in Langley City were potentially unoccupied.
These figures are both up from the 2016 census, when 3.9% of homes in the township were unoccupied, and 3.4% in the city.
By comparison, Vancouver, which some housing advocates say has long had a serious problem with vacant homes being bought by real estate speculators, has 7% of homes outside the “occupied” category according to census figures from This year.
However, not all houses that are “occupied by usual residents” are empty, warned Andy Yan, SFU’s municipal program director.
“This category is a sausage, which means there’s a whole bunch of stuff mixed in there,” said Yan, who has been studying vacancy issues for 15 years in Metro Vancouver.
Units can be empty, whether they are vacant rental units or houses owned by speculators.
In October 2020, CMHC found that Langley had a unit vacancy rate of 1.9%.
But these houses can also be dormitories occupied by temporary foreign workers or foreign students attending local universities, such as Trinity Western. This category also includes homes that are due to be demolished, but not yet closed, or homes that are used full-time as AirBnB rentals.
“The measurement itself is not a measurement of purely empty units,” Yan said.
He noted that the rate is something that should be monitored and has implications for local housing policy. The Township of Langley recently updated its housing action plan, aiming to create more density in existing neighborhoods and more family homes, even in condo projects.
READ MORE: Township of Langley housing plan to tackle cost of housing, homelessness
As the number of potentially empty homes in Langley has increased over the past five years, the number of people per home has also increased, signaling a demographic shift in the community.
The historical trend across Canada has been towards more people living alone, which has lowered the people-to-house ratio. At the last census in 2016, it was around 2.4 per household across the country.
In Langley Township in 2021, the rate was 2.825, counting only occupied units. That was up from 2.7 in 2016.
In Langley City, which has a large population of seniors living alone, the number of people per household was 2.29 in 2021. That figure was also up, from 2.18 in 2016.
Vancouver, meanwhile, saw its people-to-dwelling rate drop from 2.22 in 2016 to 2.16 in the 2021 census.
Yan said that’s likely because more families have moved to Langley in recent years in search of relatively affordable homes and spaces for children.
In 2021, enrollment in the Langley School District grew by a record 917 students, the equivalent of three new elementary schools.
This was part of the rapid growth of the Township of Langley, which saw its overall population increase by 13.1%, and the City of Langley, which grew by 11.9% over the past five years.
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