12/09/2014 12:58 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST

New housing starts, building permits drop in November

The overall number of residential permits and commercial building permits being issued in Canada experienced a downturn, according to new data from Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

While Ontario and B.C. saw continued growth in building of multi-family homes, there has been a slowdown across the Prairie provinces, especially in construction of new condos.

Statistics Canada released its survey of building permits for October indicating cuts in both residential and commercial sectors.

Canadian municipalities issued $2 billion worth of building permits for multi-family dwellings in October, 0.9 per cent less than in September, according to the agency. There was also a 0.2 per cent drop in the number of single-family dwellings.

Commercial permits also fell in October – by 8.1 per cent after a 6.2 per cent advance in September. That marks the lowest level since April.

The report said there was a reduction in “construction intentions” for office buildings, retail spaces, service stations and recreational facilities, especially in Ontario.

Big slides in new home building in the Prairies offset  some good news from other provinces, according to a CMHC survey.

Urban areas still growing

“This is in line with our expectations for 2014, of a stable national picture with new home building concentrated in multiple starts, particularly in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario,” said Bob Dugan, the CMHC’s chief economist in a release.

The national rate of housing starts went up only slightly to 195,620 units in November on a seasonally adjusted basis from 183,659 in October.

Urban areas of B.C. stood at 29,565 units in November compared to 23,335 units in October.  And in Halifax, the November starts were 2,279 units, up from 730 in October. 

Various cities in Ontario also saw a boost such as London, where total starts rose to 2,657 units in November, up  from 1,754 in October due to higher row home and apartment starts.

It was a much different story in the Prairies. Condominium starts have been sliding for several months. In October, Dugan had predicted that market would keep falling. 

Calgary building starts stall

Calgary only saw 12,789 new units in November, shrinking from 17,674 in October due to a sharp downturn in multi-family starts.

In Regina, the numbers were just as stark —  only 1,1,35 new units were built, down from 3,577 in October. The city experienced “significant reductions for both single-detached and multi-family units” said the CMHC which mean a decline of 52 per cent compared to a year before.

Winnipeg’s numbers dwindled from 5,021 units in October to only 2,482 new units in November. The CMHC said starts on both single-detached and multi-family sectors were lower when compared to November 2013.

“As a result, the total number of housing starts year-to-date is down nine per cent compared to one year earlier,” said the CMHC.