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May 16, 2019

Regina’s residential construction industry in ‘deep recession,’ says home builders’ association



As reported in the Regina Leader-Post, Regina’s residential construction industry is experiencing a heavy downturn, with this year’s housing starts on track to be the lowest in 11 years.

A new report from the Regina and Region Home Builders’ Association has put most of the blame on mortgage stress testing rules, which it said is raising the barrier to home ownership. The association estimates home ownership in the city has now sunk to 66 per cent, the lowest since 1996.

There were 111 residential building permits issued in the Regina region in the first quarter of 2019, a 67.4 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year. The drop was primarily driven by a 72.5 per cent decrease in the construction of multi-family homes.

Stu Niebergall, the president and CEO of the builders’ association, described the state of Regina’s residential construction industry as being in a “deep recession,” resulting in job losses.

“Those employed in the residential construction industry have been losing their livelihood. We need public policy decision-makers to turn the tide of continually increasing the cost and limiting the access to homeownership. If there was ever a time to find ways to reduce taxation and fees on new homes and recalibrate mortgage rules and stress tests, it would be now,” said Nierbgall in the report.

He said the province’s move to expand the provincial sales tax (PST) to include the cost of construction labour has been a factor, but pointed to last year’s changes in mortgage stress testing rules — requiring buyers to qualify for a mortgage at a higher rate — as the biggest challenge. The policy changes were an effort to cool off housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto, but members of the Regina industry believe the city was unfairly lumped in with those larger centres.

Niebergall said this has led to fewer people qualifying for home ownership, putting “downward pressure” on housing starts. He said the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) trend shows Regina is likely to see 545 housing starts in 2019, the lowest since 1998.

This slowdown has led to job losses in the residential construction sector. Nierbergall estimated that since 2016, close to 3,000 jobs in the city’s construction sector have been lost.

Keep reading in the Regina Leader-Post


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