Rental rates in Saskatoon double in less than a decade

By Morgan Modjeski, Metro Saskatoon, April 8, 2014 -  In less than a decade, rental rates in Saskatoon have nearly doubled — a trend sweeping Western Canada, according to experts. A recent city report found rental rates for a two-bedroom apartment have jumped from $600 in 2006 to more than $1,000 in 2013.

Increasing immigration and a strong economy are contributing factors says Avi Akkerman, an urban planning professor at University of Saskatchewan — noting whether this is a problem is up for discussion.

“For young people who are moving to the city after work or to (go) to school it’s not a good situation,” he said. “But for those people who managed to buy homes 10, 15 or 20 years ago … of course they are happy.”

Since the development of the housing business plan in 2008, the city has approved or built more than 1,000 rental units, but Ward 2 Coun. Pat Lorje said the impact of rising rents could already be seen in Saskatoon’s Pleasant Hill neighbourhood.

“What we’re seeing is increasing over-crowding,” Lorje said.

She explained that in the past, a four-person family would have occupied a two-bedroom apartment, but she’s seen that number almost triple in recent years.

“Now, what we’re seeing is there will be 10 or 12 people living in that two bedroom apartment,” she said.

“Quality of life really suffers when you’re living in crowded circumstances, and when the quality of life suffers, people’s lifestyle and life-choices suffer.”

City manager Alan Wallace said Saskatoon has taken a number of steps to support rental development in the city, including a five-year tax abatement for those developing rental units, and capital cash grants to construct affordable rental units.

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