March was a good month for municipal building projects


The number of building permits in Canadian municipalities are up 2.1 per cent in March with a total of $8.1 billion worth of building permits issued. The higher construction intentions can be credited to Western Canada.

British Columbia led the increase with $180 million worth of building permits. One of four provinces reporting an increase, B.C. saw an increase of 12.8 per cent from the previous month. Meanwhile, all provinces east of Manitoba reported declines. The largest decrease was in Ontario – down 1.4 per cent due to lower construction intentions in the residential sector.

In the non-residential sector, Quebec saw a rise of 7.9 per cent in March. For the institutional sector there was an increase of $175 million. While the commercial sector saw an increase of $166 million. A high value permit for an addition to the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal drove the increase in the institutional component.

In the industrial sector, the value of permits declined 15.6 per cent in March for a total of a decrease of $102 million. The decrease was the result of lower construction intentions in Quebec – where multiple high-value permits were issued the previous month.

Municipalities issued $4.8 billion worth of residential permits in March, a decrease of 1.5 per cent from February. The decline was attributed to lower construction intentions in Ontario – decline of $102 million compared to the previous month, and Quebec – a decline of $99 million.

The value of single-family dwelling permits decreased by five per cent from February. A total of seven provinces reported declines, with the largest in Ontario with a decrease of $58 million. For the multi-family sector, there was an increase of 1.3 per cent resulting in an increase of $37 million in March. Six provinces posted increases which was led by Manitoba and British Columbia.

Municipalities issued $24.3 billion worth of permits in the first quarter – down 3.5 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2018. A total of five provinces posted declines, with Alberta posing the majority of the decrease with a decline of $1 billion.

Every single component was down in Alberta in the first quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Single-family construction accounted for around half of the provincial decline. This was the lowest value for single-family housing permits since the first quarter of 2009.

In Quebec, the value of permits rose 2.1 per cent year over year in the first quarter. Every component except multi-family housing was up. This increase was due to higher construction intentions for non-residential buildings.


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