The Canadian construction industry set a record for the sixth straight year in 2006, carried by the booming economy in Western Canada.
The value of non-residential buildings rose to $35 billion in 2006, up 10.8 per cent from the year before, Statistics Canada said in its regular monthly report on building intentions.
The federal agency attributed the record pace of investment to spending in all three components of the non-residential sector, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia.
The value of commercial building investments — office towers and shopping malls — rose 12.3 per cent to $20.2 billion in 2006, while the value of new industrial buildings rose 9.5 per cent to $5.7 billion. Institutional permits — schools, libraries and government buildings — rose 8.4 per cent to $9.2 billion.
Most of the investments were in Alberta and British Columbia, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the increase last year.
To explain the construction boom, Statistics Canadapointed to low office vacancy rates, as well asa dearth of industrial space, high corporate profits and strong consumer demand for durable goods.
Building investments rose in eight provinces, led by Alberta with a 37.8 per cent gain last year to $6.7 billion, and British Columbia with a 25.9 per cent gain to $4.9 billion.
Both provinces set records for non-residential building intentions.
On a quarterly basis, five provinces and three territories reported fourth-quarter gains. Alberta intentions rose by 7.6 per cent to $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter, while Ontario fell by 1.8 per cent to $3.4 billion.