CMHC reports annual pace of housing starts in Canada picks up in December

OTTAWA _ Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the seasonally adjusted annual pace of housing starts in December came in at 207,041 units, up from 187,273 in November.

The increase came as the rate of urban starts climbed 11.8 per cent to 187,621 for the final month of 2016.

The pace of multiple urban starts increased by 13.9 per cent to 120,750, while the rate of single-detached urban starts grew 8.1 per cent, to 66,871.

Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic said home construction remained very stable nationally in 2016, with some clear hot and cold spots below the surface.

The total number of actual housing starts in Canada in 2016 came in at 197,915, up from 195,535 in 2015.

“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,” Kavcic wrote in a report.

Regionally, the annual pace of urban starts in December increased in Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies, but decreased in British Columbia and in Atlantic Canada.

Kavcic said the rebound in Ontario was responsible for much of the national increase in the month, while the decline in B.C. came after a strong gain in the prior month.

“New activity in both of these regions has been see-sawing on a month-to-month basis, but the picture in both is one of elevated activity,” Kavcic noted.

Rural starts in December were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 19,420 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in Canada stood at 198,053 units in December compared with 200,105 in November.

In a separate release, Statistics Canada said municipalities issued $7.8 billion worth of building permits in November, down 0.1 per cent from October.

The value of residential building permits fell 1.6 per cent to $5.1 billion in November, while non-residential building permits climbed 3.0 per cent to $2.6 billion.