Gatineau gains fuel surge in April housing starts: CMHC

Housing starts

Ottawa-Gatineau homebuilders continued to launch new projects at a blistering pace in April, nearly doubling the previous year’s start totals for the second month in a row, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says.

There were 1,558 new housing starts in the National Capital Region last month, according to CMHC. 

That’s up 86 per cent from 836 starts in April 2020 ​– a period in which new home construction in Quebec virtually ground to a halt at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the housing agency did not conduct its monthly starts and completion survey in Gatineau that month. 

This April, with construction back in full swing, builders started work on 588 new units in Gatineau, accounting for the lion’s share of the year-over-year gains across the region. More than 90 per cent of those starts were multi-unit builds such as condos, apartments and townhomes.

Meanwhile, developers broke ground on 970 housing units in Ottawa in April, up from 836 a year earlier. Multi-unit projects made up more than two-thirds of the new builds on the Ontario side of the river last month.

Pace slowing nationally

The region’s annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – also rose last month, with major gains in Gatineau offsetting a drop in Ottawa’s pace.

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau jumped 24 per cent in April compared with March, rising to 19,688 from 15,830.

While Ottawa’s rate fell seven per cent to just over 12,500, the pace of new starts in Gatineau more than tripled to 7,154.

Nationally, the housing agency says the annual pace of housing starts fell nearly 20 per cent in April as the pace of multiple-unit housing projects slowed.

CMHC says the annual pace of starts for April was 268,631 units, down from 334,759 units in March.

The agency says the annual pace of urban starts fell 16.9 per cent in April to 251,504 units as the pace of starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects dropped 22.8 per cent to 251,504 units.

The annual rate of single-detached urban starts edged down 0.1 per cent to 78,918. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,127 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts was 279,055 units in April, up from 272,164 in March.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press