From one street corner to the next, it’s hard to go far in Saint John , N.B., without stumbling upon a housing development either nearing completion or just getting started.
Amidst a housing crisis impacting much of the nation, developers in the Port City have ramped up construction to meet demand.
“In terms of the number of starts, we’re seeing record highs, doubling any sort of recent activity this year. We’ve got a lot of units really in the planning stage,” said Jeffrey Cyr, the Director of Growth for Envision Saint John.
Figures recently released by the organization indicate the region recorded 318 housing starts from January to June of this year. It’s a significant jump compared to the 177 seen through the same period in 2021 and doubles the 159 amassed in 2019.
According to Cyr, a housing start typically refers to the new construction of either a single-owned or occupied unit, as well as a multi-unit apartment building.
In recent years, a combination of halted operations due to COVID-19 and supply chain issues slowed construction and exacerbated the housing supply challenges.
The most recent statistics released by the Saint John Real Estate Board revealed inventory continued to be limited. In a mid-July news release, the board stated active listings reached a low not seen in over two decades for the month of June.
Active residential listings on the market for the region reached 566, a nearly 27-per cent decline compared to the same period in 2021.
“The number of newly listed properties last month was in line with what we would expect in a typical June, which helped to keep overall inventory stable,” board president Kevin Donovan said in the release.
“It’s certainly a period in which we’ve seen demand like we’ve never seen before. We’ve also seen it accompanied by challenges in the industry that are really unprecedented,” Cyr stated.
“So, you know, from this standpoint … we’re seeing these strong numbers in amidst, you know, projects being more complicated because of supply chain issues, because of pricing issues.”
Elevated levels of new builds come as the region experiences an influx in population caused by immigration. Cyr stated while specific data on immigration typically lags behind housing starts statistics, he’s optimistic it remains on an upward trajectory.
“The sources of growth seem to be a real shift in terms of migration patterns in Canada,” Cyr stated.
“We only expect immigration to increase. What we’ll see over time is we’ll see our developer and builder communities become healthier.”
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