Value of building permits drops in August

With fewer construction projects planned in both the residential and non-residential sectors, the value of building permits across Canada declined in August by more than 21 per cent, with all provinces except British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador showing decreases.

Permits down 21% to $6.3B, mostly because of slowdown in non-residential sector

Declines in planned commercial and institutional projects and multi-family dwellings helped push the value of building permits down 21.2 per cent across the country. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

With fewer construction projects planned in both the residential and non-residential sectors, the value of building permits across Canada declined in August by more than 21 per cent, with all provinces except British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador showing decreases.

The August drop comes after a 21.4 per cent increase in July.

"With this decline, the trend in the value of building permits has become relatively flat since the beginning of 2013," Statistics Canada said in its release of the numbers Monday.

The value of building permits issued in August was $6.3 billion.

Non-residential permits, which included commercial, industrial and institutional buildings, saw the biggest decline, dropping 37.9 per cent to $2.4 billion, the lowest level since February. The residential sector decreased only 5.4 per cent to $3.9 billion.

The commercial sector was hit especially hard, declining 45.8 per cent to $2.6 billion, with declines seen in all types of projects, including office buildings, retail and wholesale outlets, retail complexes and recreational facilities. 

Fewer medical and educational projects in Ontario accounted for much of the 36.7 per cent decrease in the institutional sector, where there were $507 million worth of building permits issued in August.

Ont, Alta., Que. see biggest drop

In the residential sector,  multi-family dwellings saw the biggest decline, dropping 8.3 per cent to $1.7 billion in August, the third monthly decline registered this year. Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia had the biggest decreases in this area.

Statistics Canada said that overall, the value of permits was down in eight provinces, with the biggest declines being in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

"The decrease in Ontario was mainly a result of lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, as well as multi-family dwellings," the agency said. "In Alberta, the decline was mostly attributable to commercial buildings while in Quebec, it came mainly from commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings."

 In British Columbia, a rise in multi-family dwellings offset declines in the industrial and commercial components.  In Newfoundland and Labrador, there was a rise in construction intentions for institutional buildings, single-family dwellings and commercial structures, so the value of permits held firm. 

On a city level, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal saw the largest declines while Vancouver, Kelowna, B.C., and Regina saw the biggest increases.

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