Alberta sees 1st year-over-year uptick in housing construction investment since early 2015, StatsCan says

Spending on new housing construction in Alberta increased year-over-year for the first time since April 2015, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

'The numbers are up, but they're still below average,' says building industry analyst

Statistics Canada says Alberta recorded $105.3 million in new housing construction investment from November 2016 to November 2017, investment that was weighted three-quarters in favour of single dwellings. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

Spending on new housing construction in Alberta increased year-over-year for the first time since April 2015, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

Alberta's uptick of $105.3 million in new housing construction investment from November 2016 to November 2017 led the country, just ahead of Ontario, where spending was up by $101 million.

Nearly three quarters of the increase in new housing construction in Alberta was on single-family homes, Statistics Canada says.

A big chunk of that investment is happening in Fort McMurray, where a massive wildfire destroyed more than 2,400 buildings in 2016.

There were more than 1,700 housing starts logged in the city in 2017, says Richard Goatcher, an economic analyst at BILD-Alberta, a building industry association. 

"If you look at the numbers, they're improved, but they're improved from recessionary levels in 2015, 2016. So the numbers are up, but they're still below average," he said.

Spending on all types of housing in Alberta went from $622.9 million in November 2016 to $728.3 million one year later — an increase of 16.9 per cent.

Single house construction spending accounted for $371 million in November 2016, rising to $448.2 million 12 months later.

Andrew Griffin, owner of Trubuilt Enterprises, which does foundations and framing in the Calgary area, says he's seen a steady increase in home building activity since last summer.

"Well, I think it's good. If we don't see something that's steady for a long period of time, the young guys don't get into it, and then we're going to have shortages," he said.

Griffin says local builders seem to be cautiously optimistic about 2018.

"We're expecting to be steady, but we've been fairly lucky anyway," he said.