calgary construction

Photo: Neal Sanche/Flickr

Canadian housing starts have been creeping up every month since April, but big cities such as Calgary and Montreal are the clear boom towns for housing construction.

We looked into the CMHC’s year-to-date numbers for starts in major Canadian metros and narrowed our scope to the five busiest cities for home building in 2014: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton.

Unsurprisingly, Toronto had 18,961 starts, the highest total among cities for January and July 2014 (the July stats are preliminary and will be updated end of month). However, it couldn’t match the furious rate of construction seen in other cities. Starts increased in Toronto by 6 per cent, year-over-year, but Calgary, which counted 10,648 starts, saw a 53 per cent rise over last year.

While Calgary recorded 3,991 starts for single-detached dwellings, a 9 per cent boost over last year, it was the multiples market that more than doubled. Under the “all others” designation, which accounts for semis, row homes and condo apartments, Calgary counted 6,657 starts between January and July 2014, an impressive 102 per cent jump over the same time last year. It’s also a clear reversal of 2013 where there were fewer multiples under construction than single-detached dwellings.

Montreal followed Calgary with a 25 per cent increase in starts, also fuelled by “all others.” This segment of the market accounted for 8,929 housing starts from January to July, a 34 per cent boost from 2013. However, housing bears will wonder at the construction surge considering the amount of existing stock on the Montreal market. In July, the number of homes listed on the real estate brokers’ Centris was 10 per cent higher than the year before and represented the 47th month in a row that measured a year-over-year rise in active listings in Montreal.

As far as the other big cities go, Vancouver starts were level with the year before while Edmonton appears to have put the brakes on construction this year. Total year-to-date housing starts in the Alberta capital dropped 18 per cent from 2013. The decrease was largely due to a slow down in the multiples market. While the construction of single-detached homes rose 8 per cent from 2013, the “all others” category dropped 34 per cent.

Need more data? Check out the interactive chart and sortable table below:

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