Canadian Building Permits Down 7% in September

Decrease due to lower construction intentions for non-residential buildings.

Municipalities issued C$6.9 billion (US$5.2 billion) worth of building permits in September, down 7 percent from August, according to Statistics Canada. Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario recorded the largest declines. The overall decrease was attributable to lower construction intentions for non-residential buildings, led by commercial structures.

The value of residential building permits increased for a second consecutive month, up 2.6 percent from August to C$4.6 billion (US$3.5 billion) in September. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings led the advance. Gains in Ontario and Alberta more than offset declines in six other provinces.

The value of non-residential building permits was down 22.3 percent to C$2.2 billion (US$1.7 billion) in September, following two consecutive monthly advances. All three non-residential components –commercial, institutional and industrial – posted decreases, with commercial buildings registering the largest drop. Declines were recorded in every province, except Newfoundland and Labrador. The most notable decreases occurred in Ontario and Quebec.

The value of permits for multi-family dwellings recorded the largest gain, up 3.7 percent in September. This was the third consecutive monthly increase. The advance was driven by higher construction intentions for rental-apartments and was moderated by a decline in apartment-condominiums. Gains in Ontario and Alberta more than offset decreases in six provinces, the largest of which occurred in British Columbia.

In the single-family dwelling component, building permits were up 1.8 percent from August. Six provinces contributed to the gain, with Ontario recording the largest increase.

Municipalities approved the construction of 17,104 new dwellings in September, up 2.5 percent from the previous month. The rise was mainly attributable to multi-family dwellings, up 3.9 percent to 11,094 new units. Single-family dwellings edged up 0.2 percent to 6,010 new units.

The value of commercial building permits posted the largest decrease, falling 20.8 percent in September, following three consecutive monthly increases. The decline was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for retail complexes and office buildings. The value of commercial building permits was down in every province, except Newfoundland and Labrador. The most notable decrease was recorded in Ontario, followed distantly by British Columbia and Alberta.

In the institutional component, the value of building permits was down 22.3 percent in September, as a result of lower construction intentions for universities and, to a lesser extent, retirement homes. Seven provinces posted decreases, led by Quebec, with British Columbia and Ontario a distant second and third. In contrast, Alberta recorded the largest increase.

The value of industrial permits fell 27.1 percent compared with August. The decline stemmed from lower construction intentions for utilities buildings, transportation terminals and maintenance-related buildings. The value of industrial building permits was down in eight provinces, with Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta recording the most significant declines. The largest advance occurred in British Columbia.

The total value of building permits was down in eight provinces in September, with Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario leading the decline.

In Quebec, the value of building permits fell 14.7 percent in September. Decreases were posted in every component, except single-family dwellings. The decline was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for institutional structures.

The value of permits in British Columbia decreased 13.3 percent in September, the third decline in four months. Lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and, to a lesser extent, institutional and commercial buildings were responsible for the decline.

In Ontario, the value of permits was down 4.3 percent in September, following two consecutive monthly gains. Decreases were observed in all of the non-residential components, led by commercial buildings. Higher residential construction intentions, most notably for multi-family dwellings, partially offset the provincial decline.

Conversely, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador posted gains. In Alberta, the value of building permits increased 10.4 percent in September. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and institutional structures more than offset declines in every other component. The value of building permits was up 39.6 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador, following three consecutive monthly declines. Although the advance was spread across all components, multi-family dwellings accounted for more than half of the rise.

In September, the total value of building permits was down in 21 of the 34 census metropolitan areas. Montréal recorded the largest decline, followed by Toronto and Vancouver.

The value of building permits in Montréal fell 36.5 percent in September, following a 69.5 percent increase the previous month. Lower construction intentions were recorded in every component, led by institutional structures and multi-family dwellings.

In Toronto, the value of permits declined 11.2 percent in September, following three consecutive monthly increases. Lower construction intentions for commercial buildings and, to a lesser extent, industrial buildings were responsible for the decline.

The value of building permits in Vancouver fell 20 percent in September, the third decline in four months. The decrease was the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings.

In contrast, the value of permits in Hamilton were more than twice the value in September than in August. This was the fourth increase in five months. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, led by apartment-condominiums, and for commercial buildings were responsible for the advance. In Calgary, the value of building permits increased 28.6 percent, largely as a result of higher construction intentions for rental apartments. 

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