Building permits, August 2017
Canadian municipalities issued $7.5 billion worth of building permits in August, down 5.5% from July. This was the second consecutive monthly decrease. Despite these declines, the year-to-date value of building permits (January to August) is up 8.7% compared with the same period in 2016, reflecting a $3.1 billion increase in multi-family dwellings.
The rise of the high rise
Total construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Canada declined in August, down 6.0% from July. However, the sector has been on an upward trend since 2009.
This upward trend has gradually closed the gap between the value of multi-family dwellings and single-family dwellings. June 2017 was the first month where the value of multi-family dwelling permits for Canada surpassed the value of single-family dwelling permits. Overall, the multi-family component was $294.3 million higher than the single-family component in June, and $8.1 million higher in July.
Montréal and Vancouver are building upwards with multi-family dwellings
The value of multi-family permits in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal outpaced single-family permits by $278.0 million in August, the greatest value difference between these two components on record for this CMA. Historically, multi-family permits have posted higher values every month since December 2010.
Similarly, the value of multi-family permits in the CMA of Vancouver topped single-family permits by $236.0 million in August, and by $425.3 million in July. For both months, construction intentions in the City of Vancouver were the main contributor to the total value of multi-family dwelling permits.
Population density may be driving this development. Results from the 2016 Census (census subdivision [municipalities] with 5,000-plus population) show the City of Vancouver as having the highest population density in the country, with a rate of 5,492.6 people per square kilometre. As for the City of Montréal, it ranks near the top, with a population density of 4,662.1 people per square kilometre. With little space to 'grow out', construction intentions in these municipalities have continued to favour 'growing up' with multi-family dwellings being constructed in order to fulfill housing needs.
Toronto split between single-family and multi-family dwellings
The Toronto CMA has not followed the multi-family trend to the same extent as Montréal and Vancouver. The value of permits for single-family dwellings outpaced the value of multi-family dwellings in 2015 and 2016. However, based on the year-to-date value for 2017, the multi-family component has led the residential sector with just over 50% of the total value.
In British Columbia, the value of permits for multi-family dwellings has outpaced single-family dwellings every year since 2012. So far this year, the multi-family component has exceeded the value of the single-family component by more than $1.6 billion.
In Quebec, the value for multi-family permits has led the residential sector every year since 2013. Thus far, in 2017, Quebec municipalities have issued $3.8 billion worth of multi-family permits, almost $1 billion more than the single-family component.
In contrast, the value of single-family permits in Ontario has led the residential component every year, and for year-to-date 2017, the single-family component has surpassed the multi-family component by $2.1 billion.
Within the Prairie and Atlantic regions, the value of permits for single-family dwellings continues to lead the residential sector each year. In August 2017, the value of single-family dwelling permits led the residential sector by $180.3 million in Alberta, $32.2 million in Saskatchewan and $27.7 million in Manitoba. However, for the current month, the value of multi-family permits in Nova Scotia led the residential sector by $3.3 million, bolstered by activity in the CMA of Halifax.
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Over the years, agricultural operations have grown in acreage and sales. In keeping with this growth, the value of building permits for agricultural structures has also grown.
In 2016, Canadian municipalities issued almost $900 million worth of permits for agricultural structures, up over $400 million from 2011. Overall, the 2016 value was more than double the total value seen in 2006.
Ontario is the largest contributor to the total value of agricultural structure permits, making up over 50% in 2016 and 2011, and just over 40% in 2006.
The 2016 Census of Agriculture reported a 22.5% increase in greenhouse vegetable production, a sector reliant on the construction of buildings. The growth in greenhouse vegetable production coincides with the rise in value of agricultural building permits.
Agriculture structures include: farm buildings, hunting and fishing camps, forestry services, experimental farms, community farms, animal hospitals, greenhouses and fish hatcheries.
Dwelling units, value of residential and non-residential building permits, Canada – Seasonally adjusted
Note to readers
Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.
The Building Permits Survey covers over 2,400 municipalities, representing 95% of the Canadian 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 presented in this release excludes engineering projects (such as waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.
For the purposes of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario/Quebec) is divided into two areas: the Gatineau part and the Ottawa part.
Unless otherwise specified, the highlights refer to seasonally adjusted current dollars and are ranked in terms of dollar change rather than percentage change.
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.
For information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
Data for September on building permits will be released on November 8.
The August issue of Building Permits (64-001-X) will soon be available.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).
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