Think-tanks says housing starts tumbled in Atlantic Canada in 2013

HALIFAX – A think-tank says new home construction has been down across the Maritimes this year after strong growth between 2010 and 2012.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council is predicting that the growth in housing prices and new home construction will be weak in all four Atlantic provinces next year.

Research analyst Patrick Brannon says the council’s report on housing highlights strong growth in the cities of St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton and Charlottetown but weaknesses in the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Brannon says the decline in the number of housing starts over the first three quarters of 2013 ranged from a decrease of 12 per cent in Nova Scotia to a drop of 25 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The economic council says the slowdown has affected both urban and rural areas across the region, and only Halifax has avoided the decline as apartment and condominium construction helps offset the drop in the start of single homes.

Brannon says further decreases are expected in 2014 in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and only marginal growth is predicted in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The push for affordable housing will continue to be a dominant factor in shaping Atlantic Canada’s housing markets,” he said. “New apartment construction in Atlantic Canada is expected to remain much stronger than in the rest of Canada, driven by demands for affordable housing from the working age population.”

He said demand is expected to remain strong for modestly priced, multi-unit housing in communities with good access to health and other services, which is being driven by aging baby boomers.

The economic council says the number of people aged 65 and older in Atlantic Canada will grow by nearly 50 per cent by 2024, representing about 24 per cent of the region’s population.