August 31, 2023 Envisioning The Future: Top Emerging Areas in BC


Homebuyers, developers and realtors alike are abundantly familiar with the benefits and challenges of building and buying homes in Vancouver. For those who are fed up with the prices or are simply looking to diversify into the next area of opportunity, there are many regions nearby that are primed for growth and development in the near future. We looked at changes in property values, current infrastructure projects, and demographic trends to spotlight the region’s most promising real estate pockets. Here, we give a glimpse into the regions poised for both appreciation and enhanced livability.  

"Long term value in real estate often lies in emerging cities. Whether the reason is "getting in early" or seeking relative affordability, these cities have a variety of tailwinds that will continue to propel growth and investment." - Garde Macdonald, Director of Advisory, MLA Canada 

Colwood: an evolving coastal canvas 

  • Population and growth: Colwood has experienced a significant growth spurt, expanding from 17,290 residents in 2017 to 19,693 in 2021. This growth is anticipated to continue, with forecasts predicting a population increase of 35% to about 22,700 over the next five years. 
  • Infrastructure and amenities: Colwood is not just expanding; it's evolving. With plans for long-term care homes, new schools, and the Royal B.C. Museum collections building, this region is poised to be a vibrant, self-sustaining community. A community plan that pushes for enhanced transit options, including the potential for a new passenger ferry terminal, will further augment the area's connectivity.  
  • Property values: The housing market speaks volumes. In just three years, the benchmark price for a single-family home in Colwood has surged from $721,500 to a staggering $1,062,300 as of July 2023, according to Victoria Real Estate Board
  • Property and development: Recent initiatives from Vancouver-based developers Reliance Properties and Seacliff Properties highlight Colwood's promise. Their recent project The Beachlands involves the construction of 2,850 single-family houses, townhomes, and apartments, complemented by commercial spaces. A significant investment in arts, culture, and education further underscores the area's rapid development. 

Nanaimo: an affordable island gem 

  • Growth and potential: Nanaimo's spot as an emerging municipality has been secured for a while now. With demand outstripping supply and housing prices on the rise, this city is on many investors' radars. Already ranked among Canada's top ten growing cities, Nanaimo is a hotspot for those seeking value and potential. Improved access to Vancouver Island will only amplify this demand. 
  • Real estate dynamics: The benchmark pricing for homes in Nanaimo continues its upward trajectory over the past few years. The allure of selling property in the Lower Mainland to acquire more affordable real estate on Vancouver Island is a compelling proposition for many. 
  • City planning: In Nanaimo’s city plan, an emphasis on a more connected city aims to accommodate a growing population. Sustainable strategies, such as promoting alternative mobility options over expanded roadways, ensure long-term livability while reducing environmental impact. 

Abbotsford and Mission: the Fraser Valley favourites 

  • Investment potential: The growth in Abbotsford and Mission is evident in benchmark pricing, reflecting the regions' burgeoning appeal. According to the MLS Home Price Index, combined benchmark prices increased by 46.7% in Abbotsford over the last three years, and 48.7% in Mission over the same time frame. 
  • Regional development: Addressing growth challenges, the Fraser Valley Regional District and the District of Mission have embarked on a comprehensive strategy plan. Goals include increasing transportation choices, responsible urban land management, and fostering sustainable communities.
  • Local development initiatives: Prominent developments like Laurel at Mill Lake in Abbotsford and Archer Green in Mission symbolize the shift in land use policies and the opportunities beckoning to investors and homebuyers.   

Coquitlam City Centre: A New Urban Upstart 

  • Untapped potential: Coquitlam City Centre may be the most under-valued market when it comes to areas with plentiful opportunities for growth and a current lack of development. City Centre is a compact, complete, vibrant and transit-oriented downtown surrounded and supported by family-friendly neighbourhoods. The economic, civic, and cultural nexus of Coquitlam and the northeast sector, City Centre is a promising investment. 
  • City planning and vision: Coquitlam's planning encompasses a compact, vibrant downtown, increased urban mobility, and superior urban design. Emphasis on transit-oriented development, a pedestrian-friendly layout, and mixed-use spaces underscores its forward-thinking approach.  
  • Increasing value: The benchmark pricing of tri-cities detached homes has been rising over the last five years. In July 2020, the benchmark price of a detached home in Coquitlam was $1,266,900, rising to $1,795,400 in July 2023 according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Eagle Ridge, a community adjacent to Coquitlam City Centre, has seen a benchmark bump of 9.2% overall since last year. Central Coquitlam has experienced a 4.8% rise since last year. 

While Vancouver’s status as a real estate powerhouse is unlikely to change anytime soon, the areas encircling the city are also ushering in a fresh era of opportunities for those willing to act on foresight. Both seasoned investors and first-time homebuyers should look beyond the city limits to understand and capitalize on these emerging hubs.