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Building permits, November 2014

Released: 2015-01-09

Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.6 billion in November, down 13.8% from October, following two consecutive monthly increases. Widespread declines in both the non-residential and residential sectors in several provinces were responsible for the decrease in November.

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

The total value of building permits was down in seven provinces in November. Following a strong increase the previous month, British Columbia posted the largest decline, followed by Alberta, with Quebec a distant third.

The value of building permits for the first 11 months of 2014 totalled $77.9 billion, up 4.8% from the same period in 2013. The gain was fuelled by increases in both the non-residential (+6.1%) and residential (+3.9%) sectors.

Following two consecutive monthly gains, construction intentions in the non-residential sector fell 29.2% to $2.2 billion in November. Declines were recorded in eight provinces, with British Columbia and Alberta accounting for most of the decrease. Gains occurred in Manitoba and, to a lesser extent, Prince Edward Island.

The value of residential building permits fell 3.1% to $4.4 billion in November, as a result of lower construction intentions for both multiple and single-family dwellings.

Non-residential sector: Declines in all three components

Construction intentions for commercial buildings decreased 25.8% to $1.2 billion in November, marking a second consecutive monthly drop. Declines were posted in six provinces, led by British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta. Lower construction intentions for hotels and restaurants, warehouses, office buildings and retail outlets were responsible for much of the decrease at the national level. The value of commercial permits increased in four provinces, with Ontario posting the largest gain.

The value of permits for institutional buildings fell 24.9% to $684 million in November, following two consecutive monthly increases. Declines were posted in five provinces, with British Columbia accounting for much of the decrease. Nationally, the drop was primarily the result of lower new construction intentions for medical facilities, as well as nursing homes and retirement residences.

Construction intentions for industrial buildings declined 43.1% to $376 million in November, offsetting the increase observed the previous month and falling to their lowest level since April 2014. Lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants and utilities buildings, mainly in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, were responsible for most of the national decrease.

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: Decline in construction intentions for both multiple and single-family dwellings

The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings fell 3.5% to $2.0 billion in November, after a slight increase the previous month. Decreases were recorded in six provinces, with Alberta and British Columbia accounting for much of the decline. The largest gain occurred in Ontario, with Manitoba a distant second.

The value of building permits for single-family dwellings also declined in November, down 2.6% to $2.4 billion. Declines were posted in seven provinces, with the largest occurring in Saskatchewan and Quebec. Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick registered gains.

At the national level, Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 16,899 new dwellings, down 8.8% from the previous month. This decline was the result of an 11.2% decrease in the number of multi-family dwellings to 10,777 units, and a 4.1% decrease in the number of single-family dwellings to 6,122 units.

Provinces: Largest declines in British Columbia and Alberta

The total value of building permits decreased in seven provinces, with the largest drop occurring in British Columbia, followed by Alberta. Both provinces reported large declines in non-residential and multi-family building intentions in November after posting increases the previous month. In British Columbia, the decrease in the non-residential sector was mostly due to lower construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings, while in Alberta, reduced commercial and industrial building accounted for the decline.

Ontario recorded the most significant gain, attributable to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, mainly apartment-condominium projects. An increase was also posted in Manitoba, where the value of permits was higher for multi-family dwellings and non-residential buildings.

Lower construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

Construction intentions were down in 24 of the 34 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The largest decrease occurred in Vancouver, followed by Edmonton and Calgary.

The drop in Vancouver was due to lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, as well as multi-family dwellings. The decrease in Edmonton came mainly from commercial buildings, multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings, while Calgary saw a drop in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings.

The largest gain was registered in Toronto, followed by Barrie and Winnipeg. The gains in all three CMAs were in large part the result of increases in building construction intentions for multi-family dwellings.



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

The December 2014 building permits data will be released on February 6, 2015.

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 Mariane Bien-Aimé (613-951-7520), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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