Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts fall for second straight month in May

Housing starts image

Housing starts in the National Capital Region fell more than 20 per cent in May compared with a year earlier, thanks largely to a major slowdown in multiple-unit projects on the Ottawa side of the river, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday.

Homebuilders started work on 1,315 new dwelling units in Ottawa-Gatineau in April, according to CMHC. That’s a 23 per cent decline from the 1,718 starts in the same month in 2021.

A steep drop in the construction of apartments, condos and other multi-unit properties in Ottawa accounted for much of the difference. 

Multi-unit starts in the capital fell by nearly 50 per cent year-over-year to 450, compared with 892 in May 2021. Overall housing starts in Ottawa declined 39 per cent to 1,253.

In Gatineau, meanwhile, overall starts ticked up slightly year-over-year. Builders began work on 547 new housing units in May, up 18 per cent from the 465 starts tallied in the same month in 2021. 

Multi-unit starts up

While there were 40 single-detached starts on the Quebec side of the river last month, a drop of 15 per cent year-over-year, multiple-unit starts jumped 21 per cent to 507.

Meanwhile, the region’s annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – edged up slightly in May after declining in April.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau last month was 14,954, compared with April’s total of 14,820.

Nationally, the housing agency said the annual pace of housing starts in May was up eight per cent compared with April.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in May rose to 287,257 units compared with 265,734 in April.

The increase came as the pace of urban starts rose eight per cent to 264,162 units in May.

The annual rate of urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multi-unit housing projects gained 13 per cent to come in at 201,193 units for the month, while the pace of single-detached urban starts fell four per cent to 62,969 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 23,095 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 254,727 units in May, down from 257,833 in April.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press