There were far fewer housing starts in Greater Victoria last month compared to 2017 as the pace of construction slowed across Canada, new numbers show.

There were only 263 new builds started in September compared to 600 in the same month last year, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

But the region remains up year-over-year, with 3,028 new housing starts in 2018 compared to 2,696 from January through September last year.

"Housings starts trended lower in Metro Victoria, however year-to-date totals remained higher than in 2017," said CMHC Vancouver Island analyst Braden Batch. "A number of large apartment units were recently initiated, and units under construction are at record highs as there is strong demand for relatively affordable units in the city.`"

Despite the drop, construction continues to surge in the rapidly growing West Shore region.

The West Shore is home to roughly two-thirds of all rental units under construction in Greater Victoria, with 1,651 units currently being built in the communities of Langford, Sooke, Colwood and View Royal.

Overall, 56 per cent of housing starts in Greater Victoria are rental units, 23 per cent are condos and 22 per cent belong to homeowners.

The average price for an absorbed single-detached home, meaning new homes purchsaed for the first time, increased to $1.15-million in the region, up from $1.04-million during the same period in 2017.

housing starts

Source: Canada Mortgate and Housing Corporation

Up-island, data shows that housing starts also dropped slightly in Nanaimo – but surged in the Courtenay area.

The Harbour City saw 54 new housing starts last month compared to 2017, while construction in Courtenay boomed with 94 new starts compared to just 15 last year.

In Courtenay, the average price for an absorbed single-family detached home rose to $719,538, up from $661,793 the month prior. Similar data was not available for Nanaimo.

Vancouver Island's numbers mostly follow a national trend that saw housing starts hit a 19-month low in September.

"The slowdown in the pace of new residential construction activity in recent months is a result of both lower single-detached and multi-starts activity and brings new residential construction closer to its long run average from the elevated levels registered in 2017," CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in a statement.

There were 16,735 housing starts country-wide last month, compared to 18,785 in September 2017.