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Canadian Building Permits Up in December

The value of building permits in Canada increased 2.4 percent to $5.7 billion in December, following two consecutive months of declines, according to Statistics Canada. The increase was mainly attributable to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario.

In the residential sector, the value of permits rose 21.2 percent to $3.8 billion, following two consecutive monthly decreases. Ontario was responsible for much of the growth observed at the national level. Gains in the residential sector were also posted in seven other provinces.

In contrast, the value of non-residential permits fell 22 percent to $1.9 billion in December, its lowest level since January 2010. The decline was due primarily to decreases in the commercial and institutional components in almost every province.

The total value of permits rose in half of the provinces, led by Ontario. Quebec recorded the most important decline.

For 2010 as a whole, the value of building permits issued by municipalities was up 19.8 percent to $73.1 billion. The advance was largely attributable to a sharper increase in residential construction intentions, up 27.6 percent from 2009 to $44.3 billion. In the non-residential sector, the value of permits totaled $28.8 billion, up 9.5 percent compared with 2009.

Residential
Construction intentions for multi-family units increased 55.3 percent to $1.6 billion in December, the highest level since April 2008. The December advance was due mainly to increases in seven provinces, with Ontario accounting for most of the gain.

The value of building permits for single-family units rose 3.6 percent to $2.1 billion. This was the second consecutive monthly gain. The December increase was attributable to advances in six provinces, led by Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Quebec, on the other hand, experienced the largest decline in single-family construction intentions.

At the national level, municipalities approved the construction of 17,893 new dwellings in December, up 27.0 percent. The increase was largely due to multi-family dwellings, which went up 45.2 percent to 10,664 units. Single-family dwellings rose 7.2 percent to 7,229 units.

Nonresidential sector
The value of commercial building permits fell 21.7 percent to $1.0 billion. This was the second consecutive month of large declines. The December decline was attributable in particular to construction permits for office buildings in Quebec and hotels and warehouses in Alberta.

In the institutional component, municipalities issued permits worth $396 million, down 38.0 percent from November. It was the component's third straight monthly decrease, pushing it to its lowest level since February 2009. Every province except Saskatchewan recorded a decline in the component. The largest decreases were in building permits for medical facilities in Quebec and educational institutions in Ontario.

After two consecutive monthly gains, industrial construction intentions edged down 0.4 percent to $450.5 million. The decrease was largely attributable to manufacturing plants and primary sector buildings in several provinces. The component's decline was partly offset by higher construction intentions for transportation and utilities buildings, particularly in Ontario and Alberta.

By Province
In December, the value of building permits was up in five provinces.

Ontario experienced substantial increases due to multi- and single-family permits. Manitoba and Saskatchewan also posted gains. In Manitoba, the increase was due entirely to the residential sector, while in Saskatchewan, it was attributable to the residential sector and the institutional component of the non-residential sector.

Quebec recorded the most important decline, following an 18.2 percent increase in November. The decrease in December was due primarily to lower construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings in the non-residential sector. British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador followed and also recorded their second consecutive monthly decline.

The total value of permits was up in half of Canada's census metropolitan areas.

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