Is Canada’s building boom petering out? According to March data from Statistics Canada, contractors took out $6 billion worth of building permits in March, down 3 per cent from the previous month. This decline comes fresh on the heels of the 11.3 per cent month-over-month decline in February.
Although the residential sector saw gains in construction intentions, less activity in the non-residential sector pulled the totals down.
In the residential industry, the value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose 7.9 per cent to $1.6 billion in March after a 30.7 per cent decrease the previous month. Ontario and British Columbia led the provinces reporting an uptick in building.
However, construction intentions for single-family dwellings fell 3.6 per cent to $2.1 billion in March for the fourth decrease in five months. It’s also the lowest level of construction activity for single-family homes since February 2011. Declines were registered in seven provinces, with Ontario and New Brunswick recording the largest decreases.
Altogether, Canadian communities approved the construction of 15,833 new dwellings, 12.2 per cent more than in February. Multi-family dwellings, largely accounted for the spike since they saw a 21.2 per cent increase to 10,191 units. Single-family dwellings fell 1.2 per cent to 5,642 units.
As far as the non-residential sector is concerned, Canadian municipalities issued $467 million worth of institutional building permits in March, down 31.3 per cent from February. Ontario accounted for most of the decrease, while British Columbia and Alberta posted the largest gains in March, as a result of educational institutions.
After posting a 29.7 per cent jump in February, the value of permits in the industrial component fell 7.7 per cent in March to $329 million. Quebec and Ontario led the declines, which were offset by increases in other provinces. British Columbia saw the largest gain, followed by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
In the commercial component, the value of permits rose 1.2 per cent to $1.5 billion. Alberta accounted for most of the increase with more intentions for retail complexes and hotels and restaurants. British Columbia and Saskatchewan saw the largest declines.
On a city-to-city basis, the total value of permits was down in 16 of the 34 census metropolitan areas studied.
We looked into the some of the largest cities in Canada to see which cities saw more or fewer permits in March 2014, compared to the same time last year: