Construction of multi-family units picks up in Nanaimo

Multi-family housing construction projects accounted for the majority of July housing starts in Nanaimo.

Multi-family housing construction projects accounted for the majority of July housing starts in Nanaimo.

There were nearly 100 multi-family housing starts last month, compared with 22 multi-family starts in July 2010, according to the latest figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The corporation also reported 16 single-detached housing starts last month, compared with 31 in the same time frame last year.

Travis Archibald, a senior market analyst with the CMHC, said Nanaimo is following an Island-wide trend of more activity than usual in multi-family projects and single housing starts that are below 10-year average levels.

Multi-family refers to semi-detached, townhouse and apartment units.

“It’s just been quite slow for the single detached side,” he said. “Historically, it’s been more of the single detached side that’s carried the bulk of the load.”

It is hard to pinpoint any specific reason why fewer single homes are being built, said Archibald, but there is quite a bit of supply on the resale side of the market and cost and uncertainty around the fate of the harmonized sales tax could be factors.

“I do anticipate the single detached side will pick up,” he said.

Overall, 404 new single and multiple units were started between January to July in Nanaimo this year, which is on par with the city’s 10-year average of 412, but lower than last year’s total of 507 in the first seven months of the year.