High living hits Waterloo Region: New census data shows high-rise buildings have grown six times faster than single-detached homes
WATERLOO REGION — This region is growing slowly. And Waterloo’s millennials are at the forefront of the housing transition.
New results from the 2021 census show that high-rise apartments grew six times faster than single-detached homes in the area after 2016. A high-rise apartment is considered to have five stories or more by Statistics Canada.
This evolution towards the high life has been uneven. Much of this region remains without a single large building. Single-family homes remain by far the dominant form of housing among all demographic groups.
But there are also newer and taller buildings, especially on the campus streets of central Waterloo and in downtown Kitchener and Waterloo.
Main housing types in Waterloo Region
For 579,380 residents of all ages
Live in a detached house
Live in a townhouse
Live in a building of 4 floors or less
Live in a building with 5 floors or more
Jeff Henry sees this change up close. The outgoing Waterloo councilor has lived for a dozen years in a 20-story building on Columbia Street, across from a neighborhood that has grown taller than any other in five years.
He lives in the campus area known as Northdale, which includes Wilfrid Laurier University and adjoins the University of Waterloo.
“Universities are cities within cities,” Henry said. “And certainly the housing around them is part of that. We have a medium-sized town right here around the universities.
From his apartment, Henry saw cranes fill the skyline as sidewalks filled with more people and buildings rose. This brought more passengers to transit stops. He saw more restaurants, convenience stores and hair salons move into storefronts.
“The speed at which development happened was amazing,” he said.
The neighborhood of 8,395 residents now has 3,260 units in buildings five stories or more. This represents 81% of its housing stock. It added a remarkable 2,565 high-rise units over five years, giving it far more high-rise housing than any other neighborhood in the region.
The largest population living in this neighborhood are young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 – 4,345 live there. But there are also 2,595 millennials who were between the ages of 25 and 39 at the time of the last census a year ago.
Henry, 41, noticed many more neighbors over the age of 25. It’s the biggest change he’s seen in the last five years. He also sees a few other children.
“I’m thrilled to see this starting to happen,” said Henry, who advocates for a denser life and is raising his three-year-old son on the fifth floor of his building.
“The biggest change we could have hoped for was people aging in place as they graduate (from university or college) and being able to stay here, in the city, in neighborhoods they had become accustomed.
What type of housing is growing the fastest?
Percentage Increase in Dwellings in Waterloo Region 2016-2021
In a building of 5 floors or more
In a building of 4 floors or less
He knows that while high-rises may be the housing of choice for some millennials, others may choose to live in taller buildings as the cost of ground-floor housing rises beyond their reach in an overheated market.
“I think these kinds of trends to live a little denser are likely to continue as long as there is such a premium for singles, semis and townhouses that will make them unaffordable for people who don’t don’t already have home equity, or huge support from them. parents,” Henry said.
While new census data indicates the region is getting bigger, the pace of change should not be overestimated.
Where are the most common skyscrapers?
Percentage of all dwellings that are in buildings of 5 stories or more
Most of the inhabitants of this region of all ages still live in individual houses. This is how 63% of the population lived in 2016 and this is how 61% lived in 2021.
The five-year difference is that people are now slightly more likely to live in townhouses or high-rise buildings.
Among people aged 25 to 75, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are the generation most likely to live in high-rise buildings, according to the new census.
Millennials in Waterloo are much more likely to live in a taller building than Millennials in Kitchener or Cambridge. Waterloo is where high-rise buildings are most common (high-rise buildings have grown 16 times faster than single-family homes in this city over five years) and this is where housing costs are the highest. higher.
Nearly one in four Waterloo millennials live in a building five stories or more taller, according to the latest census. This is double the regional rate for high rises among people of this generation.
A millennial from Waterloo is 60% more likely to live in a high-rise building than a millennial from Kitchener, and seven times more likely than a millennial from Cambridge.