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Self-Storage Real Estate in Western Canada: A Review of 2009, Predictions for 2010

Candace Watson Comments

As an industry, self-storage is growing throughout the Canadian provinces, with some markets having experienced significant expansion in the past several years. The following overview provides a summary of storage development and real estate in the western half of the country during 2009 and some predictions for the year ahead. 

Most of the major markets in Alberta and British Columbia experienced a significant increase in supply in the five years up to and including 2008. However, construction tailed off significantly in 2009, and very little new supply is projected for completion this year.

Self-storage supply in the Vancouver Lower Mainland increased by nearly 400,000 square feet annually, or an average of six facilities per year, between 2005 and 2008. In 2009, however, only one new facility was completed (45,000 square feet), as well as two expansions to existing sites, for a total addition of approximately 115,000 square feet.

The outlook for 2010 is for the completion of one new conversion facility (108,000 square feet) and two expansions. However, one facility will be removed to accommodate highway improvements, resulting in a net anticipated addition to the supply of 51,000 square feet.

Facilities in Chilliwack came onto the scene late last year, bringing the total supply in the Lower Mainland to an approximate 6.1 million square feet in 111 facilities. This supply represents approximately 2.4 square feet per capita using population estimates from B.C. statistics.

The Capital Regional District has a supply of approximately 693,000 square feet of self-storage in 24 facilities, with an estimated supply per capita of 2 square feet. There were no new additions to supply last year, though a small expansion is underway at one conversion site, which will add about 7,500 square feet to the inventory in 2010.

The Nanaimo trade area will have a supply of 422,000 square feet of self-storage in 15 facilities upon completion of a new 90,000-square-foot facility this spring. There were no new additions in 2009.

Calgary and Edmonton each have an estimated supply of about 2.5 square feet per capita. A new 95,000-square-foot facility in Edmonton was completed last year. To my knowledge, there are no new facilities to be completed in 2010; however, several existing facilities have expansion capability. There was no new self-storage space constructed in Calgary in 2009, though there are several new facilities in the design stage that may move forward this year but will not be complete until 2011.

In summary, there was very little new self-storage space added in the western markets in 2009 and limited new development is anticipated for 2010. 

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