Region’s annual pace of housing starts down 25% in November: CMHC

Housing starts winter

The National Capital Region’s annual pace of housing starts fell by 25 per cent in November amid a sharp decline in multi-unit projects on the Ottawa side of the river, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says.

The national housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of starts – a six-month rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – was 14,691 units last month, down from 19,607 in October. 

But a look behind the overall numbers shows a stark difference between the two sides of the Ottawa River.

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While the pace of starts in Ottawa declined 54 per cent last month to 6,087 units, it rose 32 per cent to 8,604 in Gatineau.

In the region as a whole, the pace of single-detached starts fell 37 per cent to 2,727, while the pace of multi-unit starts was down 22 per cent to 11,964. In Ottawa, the pace of multi-unit starts dipped 58 per cent to 4,056. 

Developers started work on a total of 1,248 new housing units in Ottawa-Gatineau in November, down from 1,580 a year earlier. 

The local construction industry continues to grapple with labour shortages, soaring inflation and supply chain disruptions that have led some builders to halt projects. But the slowdown has not been felt evenly across the region. 

While the number of starts in Gatineau more than tripled year-over-year from 194 in November 2021 to 716 last month, new unit starts in Ottawa declined from 1,386 a year ago to just 532 in November – a drop of more than 60 per cent.

Concerns about a lack of new housing supply in Ottawa have prompted calls for developers to pick up the pace of construction.

Newly elected mayor Mark Sutcliffe has pledged to cut red tape and make it easier to build new homes as well as offer incentives for builders to construct more affordable housing as part of a push to see 100,000 new units built in the city over the next decade.

Ottawa-Gatineau’s construction slide has been steeper than the decline across the country as a whole, according to CMHC.

The agency says the annual pace of housing starts in November edged down 0.2 per cent compared with October. It says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in November was 264,159 units, down from 264,581 in October.

The result came as the annual pace of urban starts was flat at 242,644 units as multi-unit urban starts rose two per cent to 190,415, but single-detached urban starts fell seven per cent to 52,229.

The annual pace of starts in Toronto and Vancouver rose, but Montreal saw a drop.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 21,515.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 274,361 in November, down from 277,044 in October.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press

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