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Building permits, August 2014

Released: 2014-10-07

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities fell 27.3% to $6.7 billion in August, following three months of double-digit increases. The August decline was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for non-residential buildings in Quebec and residential buildings in Ontario.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table
Total value of permits

Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table

In the non-residential sector, the total value of building permits decreased 40.6% to $2.5 billion in August, following four consecutive monthly gains. Lower construction intentions were posted in seven provinces, with Quebec contributing most to the national decline.

After five consecutive monthly advances, the total value of permits in the residential sector declined 15.9% in August to $4.2 billion. The largest decreases were registered in Ontario, followed by British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces. Gains were recorded in four provinces, led by Alberta.

Non-residential sector: Decreases in construction intentions in all three components

Institutional building construction intentions fell 76.0% to $446 million in August, after increasing 29.6% in July and 149.3% in June. The value of institutional building permits was down in every province except Prince Edward Island. Quebec accounted for much of the national decline, the result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities. Manitoba's decrease was also a result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities. In Ontario, the decline was mostly attributable to a drop in intentions for educational institutions.

In the commercial component, the value of permits fell 12.1% to $1.6 billion in August, following a 1.2% increase the previous month. The decline originated from lower construction intentions in warehouses and office buildings at the national level. Decreases were posted in five provinces, with Ontario and British Columbia registering the largest declines. Newfoundland and Labrador posted the biggest gain.

In the industrial component, the value of permits declined 15.2% to $454 million in August, marking the second consecutive monthly decline. Decreases were posted in five provinces, with Quebec and Alberta recording the largest declines. Lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants and utility buildings were mainly responsible for the decline in Quebec, while in Alberta, the decrease came primarily from utility buildings.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table
Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table

Residential sector: Large decrease in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings

Building permits for multi-family dwellings decreased 28.6% in August to $1.8 billion, following a 42.8% increase in July. Decreases were reported in six provinces, led by Ontario, with British Columbia a distant second. Alberta and Saskatchewan registered the largest increases.

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings declined 2.4% to $2.3 billion in August, a second consecutive monthly decrease. Lower construction intentions were posted in seven provinces, with Ontario and Alberta accounting for much of the decline. In contrast, the largest gains occurred in Quebec, followed by British Columbia.

Nationally, municipalities approved the construction of 16,520 new dwellings in August, down 18.9% from July. The decline was mostly attributable to lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, which fell 26.3% to 10,320 dwellings. The number of single-family dwellings was also down, falling 2.7% to 6,200 units.

Provinces: Ontario and Quebec post the largest decreases

The total value of permits was down in six provinces in August, with the largest declines registered in Ontario and Quebec and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia.

Ontario's decrease was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings as well as institutional buildings. In Quebec, the decline was attributable to institutional buildings, while the decline in British Columbia came mainly from multi-family dwellings as well as commercial and institutional buildings.

The largest increase occurred in Alberta, where a rise in the value of multi-family dwellings more than offset decreases in single-family dwellings and non-residential buildings. In Newfoundland and Labrador, higher construction intentions for commercial buildings accounted for the advance.

Lower construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

In August, the total value of permits was down in 22 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest decreases were in Montréal and Toronto, followed by Vancouver. In Montréal, the decrease was attributable to institutional buildings, whereas lower intentions for multi-family dwellings drove the decline in Toronto. The drop in Vancouver originated from lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and non-residential buildings.

Calgary saw the largest increase in August, followed by Oshawa and St. John's. In Calgary, multi-family dwellings were behind the advance. Higher construction intentions for residential and commercial buildings were responsible for the advance in Oshawa, while commercial buildings explained the gain in St. John's.



  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the population. The communities representing the other 5% of the population are very small, and their levels of building activity have little impact on the total for the entire population.

Building permits data are used as a leading indicator of activity in the construction industry.

The value of planned construction activities shown in this release excludes engineering projects (for example, waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.

For the purpose of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario/Quebec) is divided into two areas: Gatineau part and Ottawa part.

Revision

Data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Data for the previous month have been revised.

Trend-cycle estimates have been added to the charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. Both the seasonally adjusted and the trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and even lead to a reversal of movement, especially at the end of the series. The higher variability associated with the trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart.

The August 2014 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

The September building permits data will be released on November 6.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jérémie Bennett (613-951-0793), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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