The latest starts survey conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) revealed a decline in residential construction in Quebec. In fact, some 2,700 new housing units were enumerated in July in urban areas with 10,000 or more inhabitants, for a decrease of 31 per cent in relation to the same month last year.
The multi-family housing segment registered the greatest decrease (-40 per cent). "Even though activity has been somewhat volatile, a downward trend has still been apparent for the past year and a half," noted Patricia Dépot, Market Analyst at CMHC. A look at the data for areas with 50,000 or more inhabitants shows however that there are more apartment buildings being started than before but, the size of the new housing projects is tending to decrease. In fact, while there used to be an average of 10 units per building at the beginning of 2004, this number now hovers between 7 and 8. With the slowdown in demand in recent months, developers are no doubt being more cautious and building smaller projects, in several phases.
Single-detached home construction also recorded a slowdown (-18 per cent), but to a lesser extent. Contrary to the multiple housing segment, the downward trend is clearer for the single-detached home segment. In fact, total starts for the first seven months are down by 10 per cent. "The demographic reality is catching up to us, as net migration is no longer as high as it was in 2002-2004, and this is reducing demand for new housing," pointed out the market analyst.
The regional results show a few disparities. While total housing starts for the first seven months of the year are down in Montréal, Québec, Granby and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, they are up in the other areas with 50,000 or more inhabitants. In most cases, multi-family housing construction and, more particularly, apartment starts have accounted for a good share of the activity.
Elsewhere across Canada, only the provinces of Ontario (-7 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-16 per cent) followed the same trend as Quebec, in terms of the year-to-date starts volume. In the other provinces, the trend is rather on the rise.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national housing agency for over 60 years. CMHC contributes to improving the living conditions and the well-being of Canadians through four areas of housing activities - housing finance, assisted housing, research and information transfer, and export promotion. CMHC is committed to helping Canadians access a wide choice of quality, affordable homes, and making vibrant and sustainable communities and cities a reality across the country. For more information, visit www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.