A Niagara Regional Housing development under construction on Carlton Street in St. Catharines. PHOTO BY Julie Jocsak, The St. Catharines Standard – Julie Jocsak , The St. Catharines Standard

St. Catharines is the 14th most expensive city in Canada to rent an apartment, according to a report published last week.

The PadMapper Canadian Rent Report, released Wednesday by the blog.padmapper.com website, says the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the Garden City is currently about $1,070, while a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,320.

That’s an increase of about 15.1 per cent compared to June 2017 — although prices are down slightly compared to a month ago.

And Niagara Regional Housing Chair Henry D’Angela said the data included in the report “makes sense,” especially considering the challenges the organization faces while trying to find accommodations for its clients.

“The lack of stock hurts everybody in terms of finding an affordable place to live,” said D’Angela, a regional councillor representing Thorold.

“Costs are going up, especially in St. Catharines, because there’s not a lot of developable land.”

Niagara Regional Housing is currently building an 85-unit affordable apartment building at 527 Carleton St., on track for completion next January, but it’ll take far more than those 85 units to make a dent in the rental prices or the shortage of affordable housing properties in the city.

NRH clients are waiting an estimated 13 years to be placed in an affordable apartment in St. Catharines.

“Definitely, any new units being built are beneficial, both from Niagara Regional Housing standpoint, but it’s also important that market units are being built to reduce the pressure,” D’Angela said. “If there’s not enough units out there and not enough being built, it puts an upward pressure on renting.”

The Region, he added, is considering tax reductions and incentives for multi-residential buildings, hoping to increase the number of available apartments in St. Catharines and throughout Niagara.

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Despite the 15.1 per cent year-to-year increase, the website’s report says single bedroom rent prices in the city dropped by 3.6 per cent compared to a month earlier, while two bedroom prices also decreased slightly by 1.5 per cent.

St. Catharines was the lone Niagara municipality on the list of the 26 most populous metropolitan areas in the country — falling behind Hamilton and Kitchener in the 12 and 13 spots with single bedroom rental prices of $1,090 and $1,080, respectively.

The most expensive cities on the list are Vancouver, Toronto, Burnaby, and Barrie, with Montreal and Victoria tied for fifth place.

Median rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver were $2,090, dropping to $1,250 in Montreal and Victoria.