Signs the housing market is returning to sanity

The housing market might be showing some signs of slowing down. Not stopping, but maybe not running out of control anymore. Maybe.

Robert Hiltz
06 May

Good morning!

This weekend is a strange one for personal anniversaries. Tomorrow marks 10 years since I was laid off from the best job I ever had. We found out a decade ago on Saturday that the Postmedia News Service was being closed down, and dozens of us would be looking for work elsewhere.

But, it wasn’t all bad. The very next day — 10 years ago Sunday — I went on the first date with my now-wife Ingrid. It came at the perfect time. Best thing that ever happened to me, surely. Love you, dear.

Anyway, enough about me. We’re launching a new giveaway today. Use the link in the section below to share this newsletter with your friends. Each and every person you refer is an entry to win one of two $25 gift cards to Pizza All’Antica. You’re going to want that pizza.

Onward with the newsletter.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

Email forwarded from a friend? Sign-up here.

Friday: +17 🌡️ +3 | ⛅️

Saturday: +16 🌡️ +3 | ☀️

Sunday: +19 🌡️ +5 | ☀️

Monday: +22 🌡️ +8 | ☀️

The First Signs Of A Slowing Housing Market?

Transition phase? Home sales across Ottawa dropped 21 percent in April compared to the year before, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board. Only 1,889 properties sold this year, compared to 2,394 in April 2021. 

  • Board president Penny Torontow: “This was one of the weakest performing Aprils we have seen in a while.”

Torontow said the likely factors were cooler April temperature, rising interest rates, growing frustration, and new housing measures announced by the government. It’s not clear if April’s dip is a one-off event, or the start of a trend.

  • Home sale prices compared to this time last year are up 13 percent to $830,588, and 12 percent for condos to $469,603.

All-time high construction: In 2021 there were more new homes under construction than at any time in the last five decades. Housing starts rose three percent to more than 10,000, according to a new Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. report. Two-thirds of those new homes were in the suburbs.

Apartments on the rise: Forty percent of new homes in Ottawa last year were apartments, with 69 percent of those condos, and 31 percent rentals. A quarter of the new apartments were being built around four regions near the O-Train extension under construction:

  • Hunt Club and South Keys
  • Wesboro North
  • Hampton Park
  • Little Italy

More newcomers than homes: The population of the city grew faster than new homes were built. According to the CMHC, this has been on a downward trend since the early 2000s

Ottawa By The Numbers

  • $2.1 billion: The amount Ottawa’s Shopify will pay for the San Francisco firm Deliverr, which specializes in two-day fulfillment. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • 16 years: How long it has been since Little Italy had a full supermarket. With new development, that may soon be coming to an end. [OBJ]

Provincial Election Round-up

Dental plan: The NDP is promising to put in place a provincial dental plan that would be in place before the promised federal plan. It would cover households earning less than $90,000 per year entirely, and there would be a sliding scale of payments for households earning between $90,000 and $200,000. [CTV]

Smaller classes: The Liberals promised to cut class sizes across the province to a maximum of 20. To do so, they’d spend $1 billion to hire 10,000 teachers. The NDP has previously promised to lower class sizes to 24 and hire 20,000 teachers. [CTV]

  • Dig Deeper: Meet the Ontario election candidates in Ottawa and eastern Ontario [CTV]

GTA highway: One of the biggest issues in the provincial election so far is whether to spend an estimated $10 billion on the 413 highway between two Toronto suburbs. The governing Progressive Conservatives are making it one of the centrepieces of the election. The highway would account for almost half of their $25 billion in promised infrastructure spending over 10 years. The opposition parties oppose the highway. [CBC]

Riding profiles: The Ottawa Citizen has put together a quick guide to each of the ridings in and around the city. Find out more about your riding:

Ottawa’s Father Of 911 Dies

ER doctor dies: Dr. Justin Maloney died this week at the age of 74. The doctor was pivotal in bringing both paramedic and 911 to the city. He was key in campaigning for the emergency call system, after surveying people around him at the General Hospital on who they would call if they were in an emergency, and only five percent of them knew the right answer, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Tributes pour in: Health care workers across the city praised Maloney’s work. The president of CHEO Alex Munter tweeted, “If you’ve ever dialled 911 in Ottawa, you have Dr. Justin Maloney to thank. He led the campaign to make it happen.”

The former president of the Ottawa-Carleton Paramedic Association Steve Hallam told the Citizen: “I can’t think of too many people who would have been capable of doing what [Maloney] had done for the city of Ottawa as far as paramedics are concerned.”

City Hall Update

Council irked by Civic funding ask: Several councillors on the finance committee were worried by the Ottawa Hospital’s request for $150 million to pay for the controversial new Civic campus on Dow’s Lake. Several wondered why the community was being asked to pay so much toward a provincial responsibility. The committee approved a plan to look at possible ways to find the money, which could include a property tax levy. The next council will make the final decision on whether to approve the money. [CBC]

Concerns over Barrhaven development: A proposed subdivision off Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven could flood communities further along the Jock River, a former City of Ottawa whistleblower said. The plan to fill in a floodplain in Barrhaven could cause problems further east in Hearts Desire. [Barrhaven Independent] 

City approves fuel oil tank replacement: A new program has been approved to offer incentives to get people to replace fuel oil tanks found near municipal wells. The $260,000 program would give loans to homeowners to replace their heating oil systems with a green-energy option. 

Stories You Might Have Missed

Gas prices set for higher highs: If you thought gas prices were bad yesterday, just wait. As soon as the May long weekend, gas is expected to hit $2 per litre. Thursday, the average price in Ottawa is about $1.90 per litre, which is expected to rise to about $1.95 today. [CTV]

Inflation is so bad grocery profits up 40%: One of the country’s biggest grocery chains, Loblaws, saw its profits rise 40 percent last quarter. Food revenues increased 2.4 percent to $8.7 billion, and the company’s gross profit in the retail division increased 5.9 percent to $3.7 billion in the first quarter. [Toronto Star]

Crane operators to strike: Starting Monday, all the cranes in the city will be still. The union representing crane operators across the province voted to strike. The union rejected a deal that offered an $8 raise because members said it didn’t keep up with rising costs for fuel, work travel, parking on the job, and basics like groceries. It’s only the third time crane operators have gone on strike in 25 years. [Ottawa Citizen]

The Great Resignation: The pandemic has been an awful time. But for some, it was also an opportunity. Three Ottawa twenty-somethings explain why they decided to quit their former jobs and do something new. Whether it was retraining, or going back to what they loved, these are the stories of people reevaluating what’s important in life. [CBC]

Unlock Ottawa’s Best Southeast Asian Food

The Pho toppings at Saigon Boy
Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Ottawa hosts some truly unique Southeast Asian restaurants that will open your mind — and your stomach — to new tastes.

Unlock the following food reviews by becoming an Insider member:

  • Pork springs rolls, pho and regional Vietnamese dishes in Centretown West;
  • Sate beef noodle soup, imperial rolls, grilled quail with spicy lemon pepper sauce in Kanata;
  • Five Thai places serving outstanding dishes like pad thai, tom yom soup and moo ping;

All of these reviews are available to members only. For a limited time, we’re offering 20 Insider memberships for only $1 for your first month. Best of all, you can cancel anytime!

Community Highlights

  • Good news, cyclists, the Queen Elizabeth Driveway will be closed to traffic weekend starting May 14 to June 25, and then closed entirely for the summer. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • For pizza with a little something extra, go try one of our food editor Ralf’s favourites at Pizza All’Antica.
  • This weekend the 174 will be closed between Blair and Montreal for LRT work. 
  • If you’re looking for something unique for your wardrobe, check out Apt613’s list of vintage shops to find that special item. 
  • Go west young man, for coffee. Check out these spots in the west end to get your java fix. [Apt613]
  • Warm weather means cool cravings. And there’s nothing better than a great Gelato from Ralf’s top picks at Farinella. 

What to do this weekend:

  • Sunday is World Ovarian Cancer Day, and if you donate before noon today (Friday) Ovarian Cancer Canada will double your donation.
  • Mother’s Day is Sunday, and if you need something special, why not take her on one of these great experiences instead of the typical flowers. [Narcity]
  • Okay record heads, here’s your chance: On Saturday at Queen St. Fare there’s a Vinyl Pop-UP from noon to 4 pm.
  • Saturday is WWF Canada’s Run to Restore Nature, join CEO Megan Leslie on this fox-shaped bike ride to raise money.
  • Jane’s Walks are back! Take a tour around this city and learn a bit about the urban geography all around you.
  • Head on down to Lansdowne all weekend for the Ottawa Guild of Potters’ spring sale for that special piece for your home.
  • Farmers’ Markets are returning to York Street on Saturday, and Lansdowne on Sunday.

Today's Top Photo

An Ottawa bird of prey
Jennifer Cooke/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Reader Jennifer Cooke sens in this photo of some kind of bird of prey — I’ve got no practice at identification, so I won’t try — who decided to see what all the fuss about Jennifer’s birdseed was about. Not every day you get to see a bird like this.

Spotted an interesting bird? How about a beautiful sunset Send us a photo! We’re always looking to run wildlife and nature photos.

Daily COVID Stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 1,331 (+127)
  • Deaths: 760 (+0)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 26
  • Ottawans In ICU: 4
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 99% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 71% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 21% 

Previous Lookout Editions

  • The city should slow down before approving Lansdowne 2.0 - read more
  • The motorcycle protest comes to town - read more
  • Where to find Ottawa’s best Pho - read more

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