Electrical EconomyThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities declined 4.1% to $6.5 billion in December, following a 6.6% decrease in November. The total value of building permits for the year edged down 0.1% from 2012 to $80.8 billion.

Lower construction intentions for commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings in Ontario and British Columbia were responsible for much of the decrease in December.
Building Permit Chart 1
Residential permits

The total value of permits in this sector fell for a second consecutive month, down 9.3% to $3.7 billion and the lowest level since March 2013. All provinces posted lower construction intentions except for Quebec and New Brunswick.

For the year, the total value of residential building permits amounted to $48.3 billion, almost unchanged from the total value in 2012.
Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings decreased 21.9% to $1.5 billion in December, following an 8.4% decline in November. Most of the decline occurred in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. Despite decreasing in December, these three provinces posted strong annual gains in the value of multi-family dwelling permits.

Chart 1: Total value of permits

Municipalities issued $2.2 billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in December, up 1.5% from November and the third increase in four months. Gains in Alberta, Quebec and Ontario more than offset decreases in five provinces, led by British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

Municipalities approved the construction of 15,565 new dwellings in December, down 14.2% from November. The decrease in December resulted largely from a 21.3% decline in multi-family dwellings to 9,439 units. The number of single-family dwellings edged down 0.1% to 6,126 units.

Non-residential permits

The value of these building permits rose 3.7% to $2.8 billion, following a 4.5% decrease in November. Quebec, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador were mostly responsible for growth at the national level, while declines were recorded in the other provinces.
For all of 2013, municipalities issued non-residential building permits worth $32.5 billion, relatively unchanged from 2012.
Building Permit Chart 2
Non-residential sector: sharp rise in the institutional and industrial components

In the institutional component, the value of permits more than doubled to $939 million in December, following a 32.8% decrease in November. This was the highest level since March 2013. Institutional construction intentions were up in five provinces, with the largest increases in construction intentions were for medical facilities in Quebec and educational buildings in Alberta.

Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors

In the industrial component, the value of permits rose 34.9% to $576 million, the highest level since May 2013. This advance reflects higher construction intentions for manufacturing plants in Ontario and Quebec. Manitoba led decreases posted in five provinces.

Following three consecutive monthly advances, Canadian municipalities issued $1.3 billion worth of commercial building permits, down 33.5% from November. The decline came mainly from lower construction intentions for Ontario office buildings and BC recreational facilities and retail stores. In contrast, Quebec posted the largest gain, as a result of higher construction intentions for office buildings and, to a lesser degree, warehouses.

Permits by province: large declines in Ontario and BC

The value of permits was down in seven provinces in December, with Ontario and British Columbia posting the largest declines.
The declines in Ontario and British Columbia were mostly attributable to commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings. Saskatchewan followed a distant third, as a result of lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings as well as single-family dwellings.

Quebec recorded the largest increase, with institutional building construction intentions accounting for most of the growth. Institutional buildings and single-family dwellings explained the advance in Alberta.

For the year, the total value of permits was down in six provinces. The largest decreases were in BC, Quebec and Ontario. All three Prairie provinces posted advances, with Alberta registering the largest increase in the total value of permits for 2013. New Brunswick was the lone Atlantic province to post an advance in 2013.

Significant decrease in construction intentions in Toronto and Vancouver

In December, the total value of permits was down in 23 of the 34 census metropolitan areas. The largest decreases occurred in Toronto and Vancouver, followed by Quebec. In Toronto, the decline was attributable mostly to commercial buildings. Lower intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings explained the decline in Vancouver. In Quebec, commercial construction intentions and, to a lesser extent, residential buildings and institutional buildings were behind the decrease.

Montreal recorded the largest increase in December, followed by Hamilton. The value of permits issued in Montreal advanced largely as a result of higher construction intentions for institutional buildings while in Hamilton, industrial and commercial buildings were responsible for the advance.

Source: Statistics Canada