According to Bloomberg (using data from CMHC), 2017 was a surprising record year for housing starts in Canada: 219,675 units. This is the most since 2007 and is up from 197,916 units in 2016.
The explanation: job growth (nearly 400,000 new jobs) and population growth were both more robust than expected.
Multiple unit project starts are also up significantly with 142,840 units starting in 2017. This is a 15% increase from the prior year. Of these units, 102,516 of them were “apartment-like homes.”
But all of this is nationwide data. Look at what happened in Toronto and Vancouver:
The increased activity mostly sidestepped land-constrained Toronto and Vancouver, the country’s two most expensive markets, but was robust in the suburbs and less pricey surrounding cities. Starts in Toronto fell 1 percent to 38,738 in 2017, while declining 6 percent in Vancouver to 26,204 units.
This is not because of a lack of demand. It’s becoming systematically more difficult and more costly to build new housing in these two markets.