Gatineau building boom tails off as region's housing starts fall 22% in April

Housing starts

Developers in Gatineau dialled back their frenetic output of new multi-unit housing projects last month, triggering a 22 per cent decline in new housing starts in the National Capital Region compared with a year earlier.

Homebuilders started work on 1,213 new projects in Ottawa-Gatineau in April, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. That’s down from 1,558 starts in the same month in 2021, thanks largely to a huge decline in new construction of developments such as apartments, condos and other multiple-unit dwellings on the Quebec side of the river.

Multi-unit starts in Gatineau fell from 547 in April 2021 to just 163 last month, a drop of 70 per cent. Overall housing starts in the city were down 58 per cent year-over-year to 246, reversing months of major gains as buyers rushed to cash in on the Quebec municipality’s lower average housing prices.

Housing starts in Ottawa held steady across all categories compared with the previous year. A total of 967 new projects were launched in the capital last month, almost on par with the previous April’s total of 970.

Meanwhile, the region’s annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – fell off in April after accelerating for three consecutive months.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau last month was 14,799, a drop of 12 per cent from the previous month.

Nationally, the agency says the annual pace of new home construction in April rose eight per cent compared with March.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in April was 267,330 units, up from 248,389 in March.

The increase came as the annual rate of urban starts rose 10 per cent to 245,324 units in April.

The annual rate of multi-unit urban starts rose 14 per cent to 178,092, while the pace of single-detached urban starts increased by one per cent to 67,232.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 22,006 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 257,846 units in April, up from 253,226 in March.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press