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While national housing starts grew, Alberta’s and Calgary’s starts significantly decreased.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the annual rate of Canadian housing starts was 188,800 units in March, increased by 0.02% from Ferbuary. On a year-over-year basis, national housing starts were down 4.7%. Housing starts rose mostly because of growth in rural starts. “Urban starts saw little change as the increase in Ontario’s multiples segment was offset by a decrease in British Columbia’s multiples and a decrease in single housing starts in the Prairies,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. March’s rural starts increased by 0.4% to 163,500 units.
“Canadian residential construction activity appears to have stabilized at a level about consistent with underlying demographic demand. As such, housing won’t be nearly the driver of economic growth that it was through much of 2009 and early 2010, but it also looks like it won’t be a big drag either,” said Robert Kavcic, economist with BMO Capital Markets.
Alberta’s housing starts declined by 0.9% in March to 23,200 units, and on a year-over-year basis, housing starts in Alberta were down 32.8%, according to an Alberta Finance review. Total housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area fell by 55.4% since last March, while single-detached starts fell by 51.4%, and multiple-family starts were down 62.3%. “Although new construction has moderated in recent months, the year-over-year decline in March may also appear a bit pronounced due to the heightened starts activity this time last year,” explained Richard Cho, senior market analyst for Calgary for the CMHC. Alberta ranks third in the list of housing starts in March. Quebec (with 76,500 units) and Ontario (with 50,200 units) took the first and second places, respectively.