Overall housing starts trended lower throughout the St. Catharines-Niagara Census Metropolitan Area according to August 2009 preliminary housing data report released on September 9, 2009 by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) A total of 55 monthly housing starts were reported in the entire census area compared to 109 during the same month last year. The January-August 2009 total of 502 units represents a 37% decline from the total of 795 housing starts recorded during the same period last year.
There were only two Niagara municipalities that have experienced year-to-date increases in total housing starts -Niagara-on-the-Lake and Lincoln. Buoyant starts in townhouse construction in both of these communities have offset the impact of declining results in single-detached units. The City of Port Colborne is the only municipality to report increased year-to-date single detached construction activity with a total of 8 starts versus 7 in 2008.
August results indicate glimmers of a potential resurgence in the single detached market in three area communities. Single detached starts increased 69% for the month of August in Niagara Falls and were also up 25% in Welland and 17% Fort Erie. These figures seem to indicate that the previous existing supplies of new and competing resale homes in these three municipalities have been absorbed.
It is interesting also to note that Niagara Falls, Welland and Fort Erie all have immediate supply of new housing in lower price ranges than what is currently offered in our community. The new housing market challenges in Pelham are likely to continue until more affordable alternatives become available. Hopefully, the East Fonthill development area will expand the diversity of market opportunity that is lacking. Time is of the essence more than ever to bring this planning process to fruition.