Housing construction is booming in Alberta

Alberta set a new monthly record for housing starts in May. As Sean Amato reports, politicians are celebrating this news amid major taxpayer investments.

By Sean Amato

Last month the province set a record for new builds. More than 4,100 brand new homes were started in May across Alberta, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or CMHC. 

“We’ve been just working solid. The work is strong,” said Steph Murdoch, a construction worker.

The provincial government says it’s the busiest month for housing starts that Alberta has ever recorded. The total so far this year is more than 17,000 new units. 

“You’re seeing more apartments, more multifamily units, more row housing. You’re seeing more housing that you weren’t allowed to build 25 years ago,” said Michael Janz, acting Edmonton Mayor.

Edmonton alone saw more than 1,200 new starts in May — shattering last year’s number of 518. Calgary was down slightly from 2023, but still more than 1,600.

House under construction in Edmonton. (Photo Credit: Sean Amato, CityNews)

Edmonton’s acting mayor credits that boom to regulatory change and investments by the city, Alberta, and Ottawa. To keep the building going — city council recently approved a $170 million housing accelerator fund. 

“We have all wanted to legalize more housing. And we’ve made a number of concerted steps towards zoning reform, bylaw reform, the planning of our city,” said Janz.

Apartment units were the most common new builds, followed by single-family homes. The province celebrated with a press release.

Alberta Housing Starts (May 2024):

  • All: 4,113
  • Single: 1,359
  • Semi-detached: 323
  • Row: 478
  • Apartment: 1,953

In it, minister Jason Nixon called the growth “unprecedented,” crediting “fast permits” and the “fewest roadblocks” to building, in Canada. He added governments are planning to spend a combined $9 billion to add 25,000 new homes in Alberta by 2031.

“We really can’t meet the demand. And that’s good. That’s good for business, that’s good for other companies starting out,” said Murdoch.

While high mortgage rates have squeezed people everywhere, a recent report found Edmonton is still the most affordable big city in Canada. It’ll cost you more in Calgary, but still, that city is the second most affordable in the country.

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