Calgary reports jump in permit applications and construction values in 2021.Photo: oasisamuel / Adobe Stock

Calgary’s construction industry is on an upswing thanks to a boost in building permit applications submitted last year.

The City of Calgary reports that it experienced strong year-over-year growth in building permits and construction values in 2021. Last year, total construction value equaled $5.7 billion, up 68 per cent compared to $3.4 billion reported in 2020.

In 2021, residential construction value was $3.6 billion, the highest it has been since 2015. By comparison, non-residential construction value came in at $2.1 billion in 2021, the highest level since 2017. A total of 21,055 building permit applications were received by the City last year, much higher than the 10-year median of 16,598 applications and the 18,181 submissions made in 2020.

According to the city, 2021’s yearly growth is a sign that Calgary’s construction industry is making progress from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Calgarians are optimistic about the future of our city and that is being reflected in both the residential and commercial building permit numbers,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a press release. “Businesses and homeowners are investing in their neighbourhoods and that is in turn driving economic growth and creating jobs.”

Developers and builders also showed their interest in Calgary last year. Development permit applications submitted totalled 8,340 last year, an increase of five per cent from the 7,911 submissions received in 2020. Residential infill development applications were up 59 per cent annually, in addition to major subdivisions by tentative plan, which grew 41 per cent year-over-year. Outdoor café submissions reported the most significant increase, with 285 applications placed in 2021, up 220 per cent from the 89 submissions made in 2020.

“2020 construction values were some of our lowest with early signs pointing to the same for 2021, but despite the pandemic, we’ve exceeded our 10-year median for construction value and permit applications by over 25 per cent,” said Brenda Desjardins, director of Calgary Building Services.

Notable construction permits that were issued in 2021 include Two Park Central ($92 million), the BMO Centre Expansion ($317 million), Trico LivingWell at Kingsland Junction for buildings four and five ($68 million) and Bridgeland-Riverside Continuing Care Centre ($67 million).

The city said that it has taken measures to improve the application approvals process, including implementing the Development Applications Review Team and introducing a quality and completeness check by safety codes officers for business-related applications.

“The development application submission numbers reveal an interesting story about the construction landscape,” said Stuart Dalgleish, Calgary’s general manager of planning and development. “We are seeing strong indicators of redevelopment happening in established areas of the city, homeowners looking for flexibility to enable home renovations and land ownership changes as Calgary continues to grow and change.”

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