The housing construction statistics from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are now reflecting the more current state of the provincial economy outside of Saskatoon and Regina.
Housing starts in urban areas with populations between 10,000 and 49,999, which includes cities such as Estevan, Weyburn, Lloydminster, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert were trending downward in 2015, with some upward spurts noted in some communities in the last quarter of last year. The overall totals, however, showed a distinct slowdown in building.
In the Energy City for instance, the fourth quarter of 2015 showed 10 single residential units going up compared with 23 in 2014, which was the first full year in which there were indications that the oilpatch was slowing down.
The construction of multiple units also showed a definite decrease in 2015’s final quarter when there were no start-ups for multiple family units compared with 12 in the final quarter of 2014.
In the total picture, CMHC reported that in 2014 there had been 72 single residential homes built in Estevan but in 2015, that figure slipped to just 18 homes.
The downward trend was even more succinct in the multiple unit construction scene with 91 of them being built in Estevan in 2014 compared with only four in the year just past.
That meant Estevan finished with just 22 housing starts in 2015 compared with 163 in 2014, a stark reminder of the trending economic conditions.
Things weren’t any better with our neighbour to the north as Weyburn slipped from 89 total units in 2014 to just five in the past year.
In Lloydminster, another well-known oil industry city that straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, the total housing starts sunk from 730 to 152 with the numbers being accumulated from both sides of the border.
In North Battleford, the slide was about 50 per cent with 64 total housing projects in 2015 compared with 113 a year earlier.
Yorkton, not so directly affected by oil activity, had a more modest decline, going from 62 units in 2014, to 42 in 2015.
Swift Current was another city with a 50 per cent cutback in housing starts, moving from 146 to 77.