Residential construction boosts national building permit totals in August despite significant ICI declines: StatsCan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Statistics Canada reports that the total value of building permits across Canada increased by 1.7% to $8.1 billion in August, driven by an increase in the residential sector in Ontario and Quebec.

Permits issued for single family homes rose 9.9% to $2.5 billion in August, continuing the upward trend observed since May. Eight provinces reported increases in this component, with Ontario accounting for more than half of the national gain, mostly due to permits issued in the census metropolitan areas of Toronto (+12.7%), Oshawa (+94.2%) and Brantford (+257.4%), StatsCan says.

Seven provinces showed a decline in the value of permits issued for multi-family dwellings in August, with British Columbia (-28.7%) falling for a second month to $440 million. Excluding March 2020, this was the lowest value reported for multi-family dwellings in British Columbia since March 2017. Despite the majority of provinces reporting declines, the total value of permits issued for multi-family dwellings rose 5.0% nationally, mainly as a result of permits issued in Ontario and Quebec.

Overall, the total value of residential permits increased by 7.1% to $5.6 billion.

Commercial and institutional permits fall in August

The increase in residential permits was largely offset by a decline in commercial and industrial permits, StatsCan says. The total value of non-residential permits fell 8.6% to $2.5 billion in August, largely due to permits issued in Ontario (-15.7%). Only Quebec (+9.9%), Prince Edward Island (+82.2%) and Nova Scotia (+16.7%) posted increases in this sector.

Commercial permits fell by 14.7% to $1.4 billion in August, following a notable gain in July reflecting the half-billion dollar permit for Project Python in Ottawa.  (This project constructed by Broccolini, is believed to be designed for a new Amazon distribution facility.) The total value of permits for commercial buildings was lower for January to August of 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019.

In particular, the unadjusted value of permits issued for office building renovations fell 14.1%. This reflects changing priorities during the pandemic as many offices have closed or reduced on-site staff while more employees work from home.

Institutional permits declined for a second month, falling 5.8% to $603 million. Ontario (-27.9%) recorded the most significant drop in the value of permits issued of all the provinces, more than offsetting gains in Quebec (+30.3%).

Following two months of decline, the total value of industrial permits increased in August, up 7.5% to $528 million. Permits issued in Ontario (+41.4%) and British Columbia (+61.5%) accounted for most of the gains, StatsCan says.


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