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Building Permits in Canada down 5.1% from December

Canadian municipalities issued building permits worth $5.4 billion in January, down 5.1 percent from December, according to Statistics Canada. Lower construction intentions, particularly for the residential sector in Ontario and the non-residential sector in Alberta and British Columbia, were behind the decline.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 13.3 percent to $1.7 billion, a third consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level since February 2009. The January 2011 decrease came from lower construction intentions in all components, with the largest drops in Alberta and British Columbia.

In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.9 percent to $3.7 billion following a 19.6 percent increase in December. The decrease in January occurred mainly as a result of declines in the value for multiple dwellings in Ontario, following a sizeable increase in December.

The total value of building permits decreased in six provinces, led by Ontario and Alberta. Quebec recorded by far the largest increase.

Nonresidential Sector
In the industrial component, the value of permits fell 33.5 percent to $303 million, as a result of lower intentions for utilities and transportation buildings in Alberta and Ontario. Both provinces had recorded higher construction intentions for these types of buildings in December.

In the institutional component, the value of permits decreased 19.4 percent to $346 million. This fourth consecutive monthly decrease brought the value of permits to their lowest level since February 2005. The decline in January was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for religious buildings in Ontario and Saskatchewan, as well as for day care and nursing homes in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In the commercial component, municipalities issued permits worth $1.0 billion in January, 1.7 percent less than in December and a third consecutive monthly decline. The January decrease was mainly a result of lower construction intentions for office buildings in Alberta and for retail and wholesale outlets in Ontario and Alberta.

Residential Sector
The value of building permits for single-family dwellings increased for a third consecutive month, up 12.2 percent from December to $2.3 billion in January. This was their highest level since April 2010. The advance was a result of higher construction intentions in eight provinces, led by Quebec.

Following a strong gain in December, municipalities issued $1.4 billion in building permits for multi-family dwellings in January, down 17.5 percent from the previous month. Ontario was by far the province with the largest decrease in the value of multi-family permits. Multi-family construction intentions were also down in six other provinces.

Municipalities across Canada approved 18,057 new dwellings in January, up 2.0 percent from December. The increase came from single-family dwellings, which rose 8.8 percent to 7,562 units. The number of multi-family dwellings declined 2.3 percent to 10,495 units.

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