Ottawa housing starts bounce back big in March: CMHC

Housing starts

After dipping in February, Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts roared back in March as builders launched nearly twice as many new builds as they did a year earlier, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says.

Developers in the National Capital Region broke ground on 1,196 new dwelling units last month, up from 634 in March 2020, CMHC said Monday. 

The biggest gain came in the construction of multi-unit housing projects such as apartments and condos. Multi-unit starts more than doubled year-over-year from 423 to 863, reversing a dramatic decline in February that saw the number of new builds plummet nearly 50 per cent. 

Single-detached starts, meanwhile, increased by 60 per cent last month compared with March 2020. Builders started work on 333 new homes, up from 211 a year earlier.

Activity was particularly brisk on the Ottawa side of the river, where the number of starts jumped from 523 to 1,014 ​– an increase of 94 per cent.

Pace picks up

The region’s annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – also rose considerably last month.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau was up 35 per cent in March compared with February, rising from 11,867 to 15,978.

Nationally, the annual pace of housing starts in Canada soared higher in March as it climbed 21.6 per cent compared with February.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 335,200 units, up from 275,567 in February.

The annual pace of urban starts rose 24.4 per cent in the month to 300,973 as the pace of starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects climbed 33.8 per cent to 222,358 units.

The annual rate of single-detached urban starts rose 3.6 per cent to 78,615.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 34,227 units.

CMHC says the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates was 273,664 in March, up from 252,636 in February.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press