Housing starts on upswing

A year-over-year increase in construction activity involving multi-family projects pushed Red Deer’s housing starts in August ahead of the tally from a year ago.

A year-over-year increase in construction activity involving multi-family projects pushed Red Deer’s housing starts in August ahead of the tally from a year ago.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported on Tuesday that work commenced on 36 units in multi-family buildings in the city last month, up from 14 in August 2012.

That more than made up for a decline in single-detached starts, which dropped to 33 this August from 50 a year earlier.

Residential construction in Red Deer this year is well ahead of the eight-month pace in 2012. As of Aug. 31, there were 265 starts on single-detached homes and 254 on multi-family units, for a total of 519.

That compares with 427 starts to the same point in 2012, with that figure made up of 242 single-detached houses and 185 multi-family units.

Elsewhere among Alberta’s largest urban centres, housing starts for 2013 are up in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, but down in Calgary and Medicine Hat. For the month of August alone, total housing starts among urban centres with 10,000 or more people were 171 fewer this year than in the same month of 2012.

Nationally, CMHC said housing starts were down for the third consecutive month in August, as developers scaled back the number of new condo and apartment buildings in urban areas.

Housing starts in urban areas fell by 5.8 per cent from July’s level, mostly because of fewer multiple-unit projects such as condos or apartments, said CMHC.

BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes said Ontario was one of the few bright spots, with starts up 14 per cent. That was offset by declines in the other regions, with the Prairies down 21 per cent, British Columbia 18 per cent, Quebec nine per cent and Atlantic Canada seven per cent.

Alberta accounted for the bulk of the drop in the Prairies, leading Reitzes to suggest efforts to clean up from devastating floods in late July may have diverted resources away from new home construction.

“Canada’s housing market remains in good shape despite the larger-than-expected decline in August housing starts,” Reitzes said in a commentary.

With files by The Canadian Press.

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