Gatineau homebuilders had their busiest month in nearly 50 years in October, according to the latest data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., while Ottawa saw a substantial decrease in housing starts as compared with 2018.
CMHC reported Friday that builders in Ottawa-Gatineau began work on 1,196 housing units last month, down 20 per cent from October 2018.
The sizeable dropoff is largely attributed to the Ottawa side of the river. The capital saw work begin on 666 new units in October, down from 1,412 starts a year ago. October 2018 itself represented a year-over-year spike in housing starts, however – compared with 2017, housing starts in October are up slightly in 2019.
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Meanwhile, homebuilding activity picked up in Gatineau last month: 530 new homes were started in October, up from just 84 the year before. CMHC said in a release that October saw Gatineau’s highest level of housing starts in almost 50 years.
The flurry of activity came largely in the multi-unit category, which includes townhomes, condos and apartments. CMHC said these dwellings are largely aimed at the rental market – industry experts say purpose-built rentals are coming back into vogue across Canada as a lack of supply has builders rushing to meet demand.
Gatineau appeared to buck the national trends in October. Across Canada the annual pace of housing starts fell last month as the pace of new construction of apartment, townhouse, condo and other types of multiple-unit housing projects slowed.
CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts last month slowed to 201,973 units in October, compared with 221,135 in September.
Economists had expected an annual pace of 221,200 for October, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
The decline came as the pace of urban starts fell nine per cent. Urban starts of multiple-unit housing projects fell 12.5 per cent to 139,518 units in October, while starts of single-detached urban homes rose 2.4 per cent to 49,786 units.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,669 units.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 218,598 in October, down from 223,276 in September.
– With files from Canadian Press