Housing a bright spot in economy

Red Deer housing starts last month were up 48 per cent from June 2008, although the tally was still well below the figure from two years ago.

Red Deer housing starts last month were up 48 per cent from June 2008, although the tally was still well below the figure from two years ago.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported on Thursday that work began on 65 homes in Red Deer in June, with 33 of these single-detached houses and 32 units in multi-family projects.

A year earlier, the total was 44, including 28 single-detached and 16 multi-family.

The June number was still just a fraction of the 141 housing starts — including 129 in the single-detached category — that CMHC recorded for the city in 2007.

In June 2006, there were 76 starts.

Despite last month’s welcome increase in residential construction activity, housing starts in Red Deer during the first half of 2009 are still well behind last year’s pace.

From January to June of this year, there were 160 starts, including 110 single-detached projects.

A year ago, the cumulative tally was 334, with 184 single-detached homes.

The CMHC stats indicate that housing starts in Sylvan Lake in the first half of 2009 were down 84 per cent from a year ago, going from 99 to 16. However, the 2008 figure included 75 multi-family units and this year there have been none.

In Lacombe, housing starts for the first half of 2009 fell 62 per cent, from 68 to 26. Much of this drop also resulted from a slowdown in multi-family construction, with three multi-family units started during the first six months of this year, as compared with 29 for the same period last year.

Housing starts in Alberta’s seven largest urban centres last month were up a combined one per cent from June 2008. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo had the biggest jump, followed by Grande Prairie, Red Deer and Lethbridge.

Medicine Hat, Calgary and Edmonton were all down.

For the year to date, all of Alberta’s bigger cities have experienced a decline in housing starts. These range from a 75 per cent slide in the case of the Calgary metropolitan area to 16 per cent for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Red Deer’s six-month tally this year is off 52 per cent compared with 2008.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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