Investment in building construction breaks record for second consecutive month

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Investment in building construction, seasonally adjusted. Files by Statistics Canada.

Ottawa, ON—For the second month in a row, total investment in building construction has posted a record high with an increase of 4.2 per cent to $16.8 billion in February. This was largely due to a strong investment in the residential sector.

On a constant dollar basis, investment was up 3.9 per cent to $13.2 billion, with around half of the gains attributed to price increases, as reported by the Building Construction Price Index. This likely reflects rising demand and tightening supply for building materials since the start of the pandemic, reports Statistics Canada.

Consecutive record levels have been reported for investment in residential construction since September 2020, reaching a high in February. This was largely due to single-family home construction, which rose for a fifth consecutive month (up 9.4 per cent to $6.7 billion). Single-family homes built in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) are largely the driving force behind the growth; however, record highs were set both in and outside CMAs. Investment outside CMAs increased 37.6 per cent compared with February 2020. “The strength of single-family home investment in recent months may be partly attributable to an increased demand for more living space as Canada approaches the end of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic,” reports Statistics Canada.

Multi-unit construction investment also rose in February (up 1.6 per cent to $5.7 billion). Investment in Ontario, for this component, increased for 10-straight months, with ongoing construction projects such as the Time and Space condominium complex in Toronto. Saskatchewan saw a growth of 69.4 per cent in this sector, partly attributable to new projects such as apartment buildings in Saskatoon’s University Heights Suburban Centre.

Non-residential construction

A slight increase in non-residential construction was reported in February, edging up 0.2 per cent to $4.5 billion. This marked the fifth consecutive month there was little change in this sector.

Institutional construction investment was up 0.6 per cent, with six provinces posting increases. Quebec reported the largest gain, while British Columbia reached a record high with the construction of Burnaby North Secondary School contributing to growth in this sector.

For industrial construction, investment increased 0.5 per cent after two consecutive monthly declines, reaching $810.7 million. The continued construction of a national distribution centre for Canadian Tire in Brampton, Ont., and a wastewater treatment plant in Montreal, Que., contributed to the gains.

Commercial building construction investment remained at $2.5 billion for the fifth month in a row. Declines in seven of the provinces offset a large gain in Ontario, due to the ongoing construction of multiple high-value projects in Toronto, Ottawa, and Pickering.

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