LOCAL homebuilders slammed the brakes on new-home-construction starts last month, but are still on track for one of their best years in more than two decades.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. figures released Tuesday show 241 single- and multi-family housing units were started last month in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area, which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities.
That was a 56.7 per cent decline from the 557 started in August of last year and was a complete reversal from the previous month when the number of starts soared by a whopping 127 per cent.
But even with August's dramatic slowdown, CMHC said starts were still running 11.8 per cent ahead of last year's pace after the first eight months of the year -- 3,119 units versus 2,790.
"The trend in total housing starts declined in August as local builders slowed production in both the single-detached and multi-family sectors," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC's senior market analyst for Winnipeg.
Single-starts declined by 31.3 per cent to 176 units from 256 a year earlier, while multi-starts plunged by 78.4 per cent to only 65 units from 301.
"Despite this reduction, the trend remains elevated as population growth and stable employment continue to support new housing construction," Himbeault said, adding CMHC is still forecasting starts this year will be on par with 2012. And that was the best year since 1987 for multi-family starts and the best since 1989 for single-family starts.
Manitoba Home Builders Association president Mike Moore also wasn't fretting about last month's smaller numbers. He said July was an exceptionally busy month as builders poured it on to make up for time lost because of the unusually late arrival of spring. And that more than made up for last month's dropoff in housing-starts activity.
He said homebuilders look forward to this year's Fall Parade of Homes, which begins Saturday and continues until Oct. 6. This year's event will feature a record 131 show homes by 37 different builders in 31 neighbourhoods inside and outside Winnipeg, including Brandon, Steinbach, Stonewall, Elie and Oakbank.
-- staff / The Canadian Press