Ottawa-Gatineau housing starts tumble in February, CMHC says

Housing starts

New home starts in the National Capital Region nosedived in February compared with a year earlier as launches of multi-unit projects such as apartments and condos slowed dramatically, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says.

Builders started work on just 754 new units last month, down from 1,178 in February 2020, the housing agency reported Monday. 

The drop was fuelled largely by a steep decline in new construction of apartments and condos, which plummeted nearly 50 per cent year-over-year from just over 1,000 units to 527. Multi-unit starts in Gatineau dropped from 379 in February 2020 to just 79 last month, while builders in Ottawa launched 448 new units, down from 632 the previous year. 

Meanwhile, single-detached starts in Ottawa-Gatineau rose to 227 in February from 176 a year earlier. Ottawa developers broke ground on 210 new houses, up from 153 in 2020, while builders on the Gatineau side of the river started work on just 17 new houses, down from 23 the previous year.

At the same time, the annual pace of housing starts – a rolling average designed to smooth out monthly fluctuations – edged up last month.

National pace of starts slows

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new builds in Ottawa-Gatineau increased from 10,888 in January to 11,830 last month, a nine per cent bump.

Nationally, the agency says the annual pace of housing starts in February slowed compared with January.

CMHC says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts for February fell to 245,922 units compared with 284,372 in January.

The drop came as the annual pace of urban starts fell 14 per cent in February to 231,042 units as the pace of starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects fell 15.8 per cent to 163,757.

The annual pace of urban starts of single-detached homes fell 9.3 per cent to 67,285.

CMHC estimates the annual pace of rural starts at 14,880 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 242,777 in February, down from 244,963 in January.

– With additional reporting from the Canadian Press