B.C. housing starts hit highest level in decades last year


Housing starts in British Columbia increased to 41,800 units on an annualized basis in December, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data released January 10, giving last year the province’s highest yearly total since 1993.

In Vancouver alone, starts reached 26,500 annualized units in December, which is up from 22,400 in December 2015. It is a decrease from 31,900 units in November.

"Total housing starts trended lower in December but were in line with the moving average for 2016," said Robyn Adamache, CMHC principal market analyst for Vancouver. "Starts in 2016 set a new record for the region that was bolstered by strong rental construction in the cities of Vancouver, New Westminster and Surrey."

Across Canada, starts increased to 207,000 annualized units in December, compared with 170,900 units in December 2015. BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic said this latest data was higher than expected with strength coming from both single- and multi-unit starts.

“Aside from a burst of new condo projects in 2012, the national trend in housing starts since the Great Recession has been remarkably stable, roughly in line with demographic demand,” Kavcic said in a note to investors.

“We’re looking for a modest cooling of activity over the course of 2017, with a moderation in Vancouver and Toronto expected to dampen the national tally to around 185,000.”

In a separate release, Statistics Canada announced a 14.7% increase in the value of building permits issued in B.C. in November. This was driven by a 21.1% increase in the value of residential permits; this was partially offset by a 5% drop in non-residential permits.



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