The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says Victoria had the highest amount of housing starts recorded in the region since 1976. File photo.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says Victoria had the highest amount of housing starts recorded in the region since 1976. File photo.

Victoria had the highest amount of housing starts recorded in the region since 1976, according to December data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The housing starts report says of the 4,273 total homes that began construction in Greater Victoria, ground broke on more than 3,000 apartments in 2018, with more than 700 in December alone.

The number of apartment starts jumped nearly 20 per cent compared to 2017.

“Rental units were half of all housing starts in 2018 in response to heightened rental demand and low vacancy rates,” CMHC market analyst Braden Batch said.

Langford, View Royal, Colwood and Sooke set the pace for housing starts in the region, accounting for 60 per cent of total starts in 2018.

Those communities also made up 65 per cent of total single dwelling starts.

In other Greater Victoria regions, there were 702 housing starts in 2018 in Saanich and Central Saanich, 197 between North Saanich and Sidney, 84 starts in Oak Bay and 43 in Esquimalt.

The CMHC December report shows housing trends varied across the Island.

The CMHC says Courtenay saw a ‘large increase’ in new builds from the previous year, with the majority of the increases being apartments.

In 2018, there was 239 apartment starts in Courtenay, compared to just 33 the year before.

Apartment builds also helped Duncan to a significant yearly increase in starts, with 131 apartment builds getting underway in 2018 compared to 30 the year before.

Duncan saw total housing starts increase more than 60 per cent last year.

On Salt Spring Island, single home starts accounted for all housing starts with 62, compared to 35 total starts in 2017.

Nanaimo saw an overall decline in housing starts last month and in 2018, dropping by more than 50 per cent compared to December 2017 and by nearly 16 per cent for the year.

Parksville also saw a decline in 2018 compared to the year before, with 190 starts last year compared to 211 in 2017.

Of the 72 apartments that broke ground in Parksville, 64 of those came in the final quarter.

Housing starts were down in Port Alberni for the year by nearly 30 per cent and there was a nearly 15 per cent decline in starts last year in Campbell River compared to the previous year.

CMHC says housing starts declined nationally in December for the fifth time in the last six months and the yearly figure dropped compared to 2017 as single-detached starts offset a slight increase in multi-family homes.

CHEK