StatsCAN Plus

Boom goes the dynamite…and conversions

June 20, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

Residential real estate has been at a premium for a long time in many parts of Canada, especially in urban areas. Often, that means demolition or modification of an existing structure to make way for new housing units if there isn’t enough land available.

In addition to new builds, Statistics Canada tracks the number of demolitions, conversions and deconversions as part of the monthly Building Permits Survey.

On an unadjusted, current basis, there were permits issued for the demolition of 11,988 residential dwelling units nationwide in 2022, down from 14,155 in 2021. Over 6 in 10 (63.6%) of the dwelling units to be demolished were in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2022, compared with 7 in 10 (70.4%) units in 2021 and two-thirds (66.8%) in 2020.

Also in 2022, there were permits issued for the creation of 22,894 dwelling units through conversions, compared with 24,402 in 2021. There were 847 units lost through deconversions in 2022, compared with 902 lost in 2021.

A conversion means that a residential structure is either modified from its existing form to increase the number of dwelling units (i.e., single to multiple), or a non-residential structure is converted to a residential one with dwelling units. Conversely, a deconversion reduces the number of dwelling units within a structure, or results in a modification from single unit to non-residential.

The month in which a permit is issued does not necessarily indicate that the work actually began, or was completed, in the same month.

Single-detached homes – Never hit so hard

In 2022, more than three in four (77.1%) of the 11,988 nationwide dwelling units set to face the wrecking ball were single-detached dwellings.

Over 6 in 10 (62.3%) of those, or 5,757, were in CMAs: 1,451 were slated for demolition in Vancouver, 1,138 in Toronto, 575 in Montreal, 393 in Edmonton, 389 in Calgary, 167 in Victoria, and 100 in Ottawa–Gatineau (combined total of the Ontario and Quebec parts).

Creating from within

In 2022, there were 17,411 dwelling units created nationwide by converting single dwellings to multiples, accounting for over three-quarters (76.1%) of all units created from conversions. Another 15.4% of units were created by increasing the number of units in multiple-unit structures.

Close to 9 in 10 dwelling units created from single-to-multiple conversions (88.7%) and multiple-to-multiple conversions (90.7%) in 2022 were in CMAs.

There were 7,807 dwelling units created from single-to-multiple conversions and another 255 from multiple-to-multiple in Toronto. Combined, they accounted for over one-third (35.2%) of all 20,942 units created from these types of conversions nationwide.

Conversely, there were far more dwelling units created from multiple-to-multiple conversions (970) in Montréal than single-to-multiple (419), for a total of 1,389 units overall.

Edmonton (982), Vancouver (899), Calgary (773), and Ottawa–Gatineau (682) ranked next highest among CMAs for dwelling units created through conversions of both types.

The full makeover

Across Canada, in 2022, there were 1,952 dwelling units created by converting non-residential structures to residential ones, mostly with multiple units. Nearly three in four of these dwellings (73.4%) were in CMAs.

There were 2,679 such dwelling units created nationwide in 2021, and 1,538 in 2020.

The big picture

So, how does the number of conversions stack up against new builds? The proportion has stayed fairly steady but has risen.

Permits issued in 2022 for the creation of 22,894 dwelling units through conversions totalled nearly one-tenth (9.1%) of the number of permits issued for 251,380 dwelling units through the construction of new structures.

For comparison, permits issued for the creation of 24,402 dwelling units through conversions in 2021 amounted to 8.7% of the 280,730 permits for dwelling units as part of new construction. In 2020, it was 17,555 conversions, or 7.4% of the 236,674 permits for units in new builds.

Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (