Multiple-family construction best in last 20 years

A flurry of new multi-family starts during October contributed to more than double the housing activity in Winnipeg and the surrounding municipalities when compared to the same month in 2005, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“With these new complexes coming on board, 2006 will be the best year in almost 20 for multiple-family construction in Winnipeg,” said Lyndsey Krepela, a market analyst for CMHC.

Several new complexes in Winnipeg and the surrounding municipalities broke ground in October, pushing multi-family starts — semi-detached, row and apartment — to 416 units, a substantial increase when  compared to the 101 units started in October last year.

To date, there have been 1,034 multiple-family starts which is 40 per cent higher than the 739 units from January to October 2005.

While multiple-family starts are thriving, CMHC said single-family starts declined in October and year-to-date.

In October there were 12 per cent fewer units started than the 168 in the same month in 2005.

For the year-to-date, single-family starts reached 1,481 units by the end of October, compared to 1,499 units during the first 10 months last year.

“Although we have seen a year-over-year decline in single-family starts in recent months, it is important to note that so far this year, we are posting the third-strongest performance since 1990 for single-family units in Winnipeg and the census metropolitan area,” said Krepela.

Because of the strong performance of multiple-family starts, total housing starts of all types in the first 10 months this year exceeded 2,500 units for the first time since 1989, reaching a total of 2,515 units. During the same period in 2005, there were only 2,238 total starts.

Across Canada, housing starts rebounded in October, according a CMHC press release.

The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose to 223,200 units in October from 209,000 units in 


“The rise in housing starts in October reflects a rebound in the volatile multiple-starts segment,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, ‘which registered a two-year low in September.

“Single starts, the bellwether component of the new home market, fell to their second lowest level of the year.

“Despite the increase in October,” he added, “the pace of housing starts has been slower since August compared to the first half of 2006. This is consistent with our view that residential construction will decrease gradually between now and the end of 2007.

For the first 10 months of 2006, total actual starts in all urban  and rural areas across Canada increased 1.6 per cent over last year, CMHC reported.

Looking at only urban areas, the year-to-date increase in housing starts was slightly lower at 1.3 per cent.