New home construction in Ottawa was dampened by the "wettest July in Ottawa's recorded history," the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Tuesday.

In a report, the CMHC said total housing starts in the Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area declined from 696 units in July 2008 to 537 units this year.

"After the up-tick in June's pace of starts and the marked summer rebound in resale activity, expectations of strength in July activity in Ottawa's new home market met with the wettest July in Ottawa's recorded history," CMHC senior market analyst Sandra Pérez Torres said.


Although experts expected higher growth of construction for higher-density dwellings, the rain affected that as well. There was only a 1.6 per cent increase — or 111 new apartments, 42 semi-detached homes and 167 townhomes — from the same time last year.

July also saw a decline in new single-detached homes in Ottawa, with foundations set for only 217 units.

Provincewide, home starts in all markets — with the exception of Guelph and Thunder Bay — declined from 45,800 units in June to 39,000 units in July. The reason for the decline was a sluggish economy and labour unrest in Toronto stalling the approval process, said CMHC regional economist Ted Tsiakopoulos.

In Ottawa, most of the recent housing starts were downtown — thanks to strong condominium apartment starts early in 2009 — Rockcliffe Park, Vanier and Gloucester, while the areas with the weakest year-over-year activity growth were Cumberland, Kanata and Goulbourn.

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