New housing construction trending down in Canada’s largest cities

Ontario Construction News staff writer

After a boom in 2021, housing starts in Canada’s six largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs) fell 5 per cent in the first half of 2022. A nine per cent decrease in apartment construction is the main cause of this drop, according to the latest edition of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Housing Supply Report.

The report examines new housing construction trends in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal. The latest report showed gains in new housing construction in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton were offset by declines in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.

“In the first half of 2022, housing starts were mixed across Canada’s largest urban centres. Rental construction was generally resilient, due to strong demand for this type of housing, while developers took a more cautious approach to starting new condominium apartment projects, due to the higher interest-rate environment,” said Francis Cortellino and Eric Bond, Senior Specialists for housing market analysis for CMHC. “Increases in construction costs and materials shortages were also felt across markets, impacting construction times and the affordability of the housing delivered.”

The Housing Supply Report also examines the evolution of construction costs and construction time for different dwelling types.

Highlights from this year’s report:

  • In the Vancouver, housing starts declined by about 25 per cent in the first half of 2022, mainly due to the number of condominium apartments started, owing to the greater number of rental apartments started.
  • Housing starts for all dwelling types were down in the Montréal area. After a temporary rebound in activity at the beginning of the pandemic, driven by a change in preferences, the construction of houses declined sharply. After hitting historic levels last year, apartment starts also declined.
  • Toronto had the largest number of housing starts in the first half of 2022 (19,520, up 7 per cent). While the construction of apartments and row houses increased in Toronto, the construction of generally less affordable housing types (single-detached and semi-detached houses) decreased.
  • In Ottawa, housing starts declined for almost all dwelling types. The decrease was particularly significant in the single-detached and condominium apartment segments, where the level of construction was very high between January and June of 2021. Rental apartments, however, recorded an increase, with low vacancy rates stimulating construction.
  • Both Calgary and Edmonton have seen housing starts increase by about 20 per cent since the beginning of the year. In Calgary, construction increased for all types of housing. Low stock and strong demand played a role in this expansion.


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