Recession fuels Prairie housing boom

USask and UManitoba take advantage of low mortgage rates

High demand and low interest rates have sparked a housing boom on the Prairies. The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba are building new student residences with favourable financing options.

“The recent economic instability has created low interest rates, so the financing we can obtain for a mortgage is much lower than it would be otherwise,” Richard Florizone, U of S vice-president finance, told Canadian University Press. The provincial government provided $15 million in start up money, and construction is already underway. The U of S is seeking further financing from the City of Saskatoon and through the implementation of a new parking fee.

Saskatoon’s overall apartment vacancy rate is 2.1 per cent and the U of S only has the capacity to house five per cent of the student body. Schools of comparable size like the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia can accommodate more than 10 per cent of their students.

The University of Manitoba plans to open a new residence next year to replace an existing one that is falling apart. The old building will be the new home for the faculty of music. Vacancy rates in Winnipeg are even lower than in Saskatoon, at one per cent.