This is a post from Alex Carrick's blog that covers the Canadian construction industry.

Since 1985, Mr. Carrick has held the position of Canadian Chief Economist with Reed Construction Data's CanaData, the leading supplier of statistics and forecasting information for the Canadian construction industry.

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Construction Industry Forecasts

Notes from Alex Carrick - Apr 01, 2010

Alex Carrick
Some of the more interesting Canadian city housing starts statistics from 2009

The following are some interesting statistics on 2009 housing starts in Canada. The national total dropped from 211,000 units to 149,000 units, a decline of nearly 30%. Singles made up a significantly larger share of the total market, 50.7% in 2009 versus 44.1% in 2008. But this article mainly concentrates on what happened in some of the major cities across the nation.

Housing starts in Canada’s 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs or cities with core populations of 50,000+) accounted for 72% of the total national figure, or almost three-quarters.

The six largest CMAs in Canada by population – Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary and Edmonton – accounted for almost exactly half (50.4%) of all of Canada’s housing starts.

Despite its 39% year-over-year decline in starts, Toronto (25, 949 units) still led all Canadian cities in housing starts in 2009. Montreal (19,251 units) at -12% was the second-place finisher. Ottawa-Gatineau (8,930 units), in a cheeky move, overtook Vancouver (8,339 units) for third spot.

After Vancouver in fourth position, Calgary (6,318 units) and Edmonton (6,317 units) were virtually tied for fifth and sixth. Note that according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s estimates, Calgary had one more housing start in 2009 than Edmonton.

Consider the importance of the major cities within their respective provinces. Montreal starts accounted for 44% of the Quebec provincial total in 2009. Quebec City had an especially good year for housing starts – it was one of only three cities nationally to record a percentage increase – and provided 13% of the province’s total starts.

Toronto accounted for 52% of Ontario’s total. Winnipeg starts made up 49% of the Manitoba figure. Calgary and Edmonton combined for 62% of Alberta (i.e., 31% each). And Vancouver starts were 52% of the British Columbia total.

Besides Quebec City, the only other CMAs to record a gain in starts in 2009 versus 2008 were Kingston (+6.7%) and Thunder Bay (+7.8%). Starts in the latter centre, however, were very low (only a couple of hundred units).

Three of the four CMAs in B.C. had starts declines that were greater than 50% – Abbotsford (-72%), Kelowna (-71%) and Vancouver (-57%). The fourth CMA in B.C., Victoria, experienced a drop of 46% in unit starts. The B.C. figures are startling given that the province has led all others in population growth in the last two quarters.

Smaller centres across the country (populations of 5,000 to 49,999) with the largest number of starts were Lethbridge AB (970 units), Nanaimo BC (801 units), Fredericton NB (755 units) and Charlottetown PE (669 units). The Charlottetown number was a doubling of its 2008 level.

Alex Carrick

Find Canadian construction-related economic articles in Canadian Construction Market News and in the Economic Outlook section of Daily Commercial News. Mr. Carrick also has a lifestyle blog that can be reached by clicking here.


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