Canadian housing starts began the year on a high note, edging up from a strong December to 207,400 total units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in January. The six-month trend in Canadian housing starts was also higher at 199,900 units, which is slightly above average annual growth in Canadian households.
Housing starts in BC slowed to begin the year from a torrid pace is 2016. Starts were down 33 per cent on a monthly basis and 13 per cent year-over-year, though unseasonably high snowfall in December and January likely played a role in limiting construction activity. Single detached starts were down 36 per cent while multiple unit starts were down 5 per cent year-over-year.
Looking at census metropolitan areas (CMA) in BC, total starts in the Vancouver CMA were down 24 per cent year-over-year in January, with a sharp decline in single detached starts compared to last year. In the Victoria CMA, housing starts were up 28 per cent year-over-year due to strong growth in new multiple unit starts. New home construction in the Kelowna CMA fell 6 per cent compared to last year as fewer multiple unit projects got underway. Housing starts in the Abbotsford-Mission CMA were 87 per cent higher compared to January 2016 as several multiple unit projects broke ground, leading to a doubling of multiple unit starts compared to last year.