Value of Canadian building permits up 17.2% in March from February, to C$6.8B, driven by advances in residential and nonresidential sectors in Ontario

Michelle Rivera

Michelle Rivera

May 5, 2011 – Statistics Canada

OTTAWA , May 5, 2011 (press release) – Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.8 billion in March, a 17.2% increase from February and a level not seen since June 2007. The gain was mostly the result of advances in the residential and non-residential sectors in Ontario.

After two consecutive monthly decreases, the value of residential permits increased 33.9% to $4.0 billion in March, the highest level since March 2010. Ontario posted the largest increase in both single and multi-family permits. In March, six other provinces also recorded gains in the residential sector.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.4% to $2.8 billion, following a 72.7% increase in February. Lower construction intentions for industrial and commercial permits more than offset a record high value for institutional permits.

The total value of permits increased in eight provinces. Alberta recorded the largest drop in March as a result of a decline in the non-residential sector, after a significant increase in February.
Residential sector: Intentions up for both multi-family and single-family dwellings

The value of permits for multi-family dwellings more than doubled in March to $1.9 billion, following two consecutive monthly decreases. The increase was mainly the result of higher construction intentions in eight provinces, led by Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Municipalities issued $2.1 billion worth of permits for single-family dwellings in March, up 2.5% from February. Higher construction intentions, particularly in Ontario and Alberta, offset declines in other provinces.

Nationally, municipalities approved 17,141 new dwellings in March, up 26.7% from February. The increase came from multi-family dwellings, which rose 55.5% to 10,469 units. The number of single-family dwellings declined 1.9% to 6,672 units.
Non-residential sector: Increase in the institutional component

The value of permits in the institutional component increased 83.1% in March after doubling in February. Institutional intentions hit a record high of $1.3 billion, as a result of increases in all provinces and territories. Ontario, which posted the largest gain, reported higher construction intentions for educational and medical buildings.

In the commercial component, the value of permits decreased 1.7% to $1.2 billion in March following a 22.3% increase in February. The largest drops were in Alberta and Quebec, the result of lower intentions for a wide variety of commercial buildings, such as hotels, offices and warehouses. However, commercial intentions rose in half the provinces. The largest increases occurred in office buildings in British Columbia and in the hotels and restaurants category in Ontario.

Following a strong gain in February, municipalities issued $309 million in permits for industrial buildings in March, down 65.1%. The largest decrease was for utilities and transportation buildings in Alberta and for manufacturing plants in Ontario.

Strong intentions in Ontario

The value of building permits was up in eight provinces. Ontario posted the largest advance following two consecutive monthly declines. The increase in Ontario came mostly from multi-family and institutional permits.

In British Columbia, the increase was mainly a result of commercial and multi-family permits. In Quebec, the combined increase in multi-family and industrial permits more than offset a decline in commercial permits.

In contrast, Alberta recorded the largest decrease as a result of lower intentions for industrial and commercial components. The only other province to register a drop was Newfoundland and Labrador, as a result of declines in single-family dwellings and commercial buildings.

Permits up in most census metropolitan areas

The total value of permits increased in 22 of the 34 census metropolitan areas in March.

The largest increases occurred in Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal. In Toronto, the increase came mostly from multi-family dwellings after a decline in February. Most of the increase in Vancouver originated in the commercial component. Montréal posted gains in all components, except single-family dwellings.

In contrast, the largest declines occurred in Calgary, Ottawa and Hamilton. The decline in Calgary came primarily from industrial and commercial buildings while in Ottawa and Hamilton, it came mostly from commercial and single-family permits.

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