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Building permits, February 2015

Released: 2015-04-09

Canadian municipalities issued building permits worth $6.1 billion in February, edging down 0.9% from the previous month. This was the second consecutive monthly decline. Lower construction intentions in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta were responsible for the decrease at the national level.

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 value of permits in the non-residential sector fell 5.4% to $2.0 billion in February, marking the second decrease in three months. Quebec and Alberta accounted for much of the decline in non-residential building construction intentions. Ontario registered the biggest gain, followed by British Columbia.

In February, the value of residential building permits rose 1.5% to $4.1 billion, following an 8.1% decline in January. The increase stemmed from higher construction intentions in six provinces, led by Quebec, followed by British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Ontario saw the largest decline in the residential sector.

Non-residential sector: Lower construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings

Municipalities issued $377 million worth of institutional building permits in February, down 20.5% from January and the second straight monthly decline. The decrease came from a variety of buildings, including educational institutions, government buildings, medical facilities and retirement homes. Declines were recorded in five provinces, led by Quebec. British Columbia registered the largest increase.

In the commercial component, the value of permits fell for a second consecutive month, down 6.2% to $1.2 billion in February. Decreases were posted in three provinces, led by Quebec, followed by Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. Nationally, the decline came from lower construction intentions for recreational facilities and, to a lesser degree, warehouses. Ontario registered the largest increase in the component.

The value of permits issued for industrial buildings rose 19.2% to $399 million in February, following a 23.2% decline the previous month. The increase resulted mostly from higher construction intentions for transportation-related buildings and primary industry facilities in Ontario. The gain in Ontario was sufficiently large to offset the declines in seven provinces, with British Columbia and Alberta registering the largest decreases.

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: Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings

The value of multi-family dwelling permits increased 20.7% to $1.8 billion in February, ending a string of four consecutive monthly declines. The advance was attributable to higher construction intentions in every province except Ontario. Quebec posted the largest advance, followed by British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings declined 9.6% to $2.3 billion, following two consecutive monthly increases. The decrease came from lower construction intentions in every province except Nova Scotia, which posted a slight increase. Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario accounted for most of the decline.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 15,133 new dwellings in February, up 2.7% from January. The increase was a result of a 9.4% gain in the number of multi-family dwellings to 9,325 units. The number of single-family dwellings declined 6.6% to 5,808 units.

Provinces: Quebec, Ontario and Alberta post large declines

The total value of permits was down in four provinces in February, with Quebec posting the largest decline, followed by Ontario and Alberta.

The large decrease in Quebec occurred as a result of lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, as well as single-family dwellings. While the value of multi-family dwelling permits issued in Quebec increased significantly, it was not enough to offset declines in the other components.

In Ontario, the decline was attributable to lower construction intentions for residential buildings, mainly multi-family dwellings. In Alberta, the decrease came mostly from single-family dwellings and commercial buildings.

In contrast, the largest gain occurred in British Columbia, where multi-family dwellings and, to a lesser extent, commercial and institutional buildings were responsible for the advance. The increase in Nova Scotia resulted largely from higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings.

Higher construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

The total value of building permits was up in 23 of the 34 census metropolitan areas in February, with Vancouver, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo and Halifax posting the largest increases.

In Vancouver, the increase resulted from higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, as well as commercial and institutional buildings. In Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, multiple dwellings and commercial buildings largely explained the increase, while in Halifax, higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings accounted for most of the gain in February.

Conversely, Toronto and Montréal registered the largest decreases. In Toronto, the decline originated from lower construction intentions for multiple dwellings and, to a lesser degree, single-family houses as well as institutional buildings. In Montréal, which had the biggest gain the previous month, the decrease came from commercial and institutional buildings, as well as single-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 February 2015 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

The March building permits data will be released on May 7.

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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