Ottawa-Gatineau’s annual pace of housing starts rose slightly in April, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Monday, as builders stepped up construction of multi-unit projects in response to surging demand for apartments and condos.
The national housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts for the fourth month of the year was 16,673 units, up six per cent from 15,715 in March.
It’s the third month in a row that the rate of starts has risen, following months of declines.
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Unlike in March, however when Ottawa’s construction rate soared while Gatineau’s declined, last month saw the pace of new starts rise 217 per cent on the Quebec side of the river to 5,575.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, the rate fell to 11,098 in April from nearly 14,000 in March, a drop of 20 per cent.
Builders in Ottawa-Gatineau started work on 1,389 new housing units last month, up 15 per cent from April 2022.
Multi-unit starts accounted for 1,271 of those new builds, rising 51 per cent year-over-year. There were 447 starts of apartments, condos and other multi-unit projects in Gatineau, an increase of 174 per cent from the previous year, while multi-unit starts in Ottawa rose 21 per cent to 824.
The latest figures suggest the apartment and condo construction boom that kicked into high gear last year is continuing into 2023.
Apartments and condos made up 52 per cent of Ottawa-Gatineau’s record total of more than 11,000 new housing starts in 2022, CMHC said last month. It marked the first time in more than 20 years that new builds of purpose-built rental and condominium suites surpassed starts of single-detached and row houses.
The agency said soaring house prices and rising interest rates that make borrowing to buy a home more expensive have ratcheted up demand for new rental units. There were 2,818 new rental units launched in 2022, up from 1,196 the previous year.
Meanwhile, 2,891 condominium starts were recorded last year, beating the previous year’s record tally by seven per cent.
Nationally, CMHC says the annual pace of housing starts in April rose 22 per cent compared with March, powered by an increase in starts of multi-unit urban homes.
The national housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in April came in at 261,559 units, up from 213,780 in March.
The overall increase came as the annual pace of urban starts rose 26 per cent to 241,585 units in April, while the annual rate of multi-unit urban starts rose 33 per cent to 201,621 units. The annual rate of single-detached urban starts fell two per cent to 39,964.
The annual pace of housing starts in Vancouver was up 36 per cent, while Toronto’s climbed 54 per cent. Starts in Montreal gained 43 per cent.
The annual rate of rural starts was estimated at 19,974 units.
The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate was 240,403 units in April, down 0.2 per cent from 240,876 units in March.
– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press