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The Daily

Thursday, November 6, 2008
September 2008

Municipalities issued $6.5 billion in building permits in September, up 13.4% following an 11.7% decline in August.

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September's increase was the result of gains in all three components of the non-residential sector. The total value of building permits increased in seven provinces and two territories.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 41.7% to $3.2 billion. This increase was generated by a substantial gain in institutional permits, and lesser increases in the industrial and commercial components. Major increases occurred in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which eases comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the population. It provides an early indication of building activity. The communities representing the other 5% of the population are very small, and their levels of building activity have little impact on the total.

The value of planned construction activities shown in this release excludes engineering projects (e.g., waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.

For the purpose of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario/Quebec) is divided into two areas: Gatineau part and Ottawa part.

In the residential sector, the value of permits fell for the second month in a row and the sixth time in nine months. Housing permits declined by 4.9% to $3.3 billion, the result of lower levels of permits for multi-family dwellings in six provinces.

Non-residential sector: Institutional permits double

After two consecutive monthly declines, the value of institutional permits more than doubled (+108.8%) in September to a record $986 million. The increase came mostly from planned medical and educational building projects in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Construction intentions for commercial buildings rose by 11.7% to $1.5 billion after three consecutive declines. Overall, seven provinces reported increases in commercial permits, with most of the gains occurring in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

In the industrial sector, contractors took out $679 million in permits in September, more than 50% above the average value recorded in 2008. This was a 64.4% increase, which more than offset a 16.8% decline in these permits in August. The increase came mostly from maintenance buildings in Ontario and utility buildings in Alberta.

Residential sector: Second consecutive monthly decline for multi-family dwellings

Municipalities issued $1.2 billion in multi-family dwellings in September, down 11.6% from August and the second consecutive monthly decline.

Ontario and British Columbia accounted for most of the decline among the six provinces that reported a decrease in multi-family dwellings.

At the same time, permits for single-family dwellings fell 0.7% to $2.1 billion, a third consecutive decline. Significant decreases occurred in Ontario and British Columbia, which more than offset increases in five provinces and the three territories.

Quebec registered the largest gain and a third increase in four months in the value of single-family dwellings.

The overall number of residential units approved fell for a second consecutive month. Municipalities approved 16,134 new dwellings in September, down 3.5% from August.

The number of multi-family dwelling units approved declined 4.7% to 8,448. The number of single-family dwelling units fell 2.1% to 7,686, a third consecutive decrease.

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Permits up in most provinces

The value of building permits increased in seven provinces in September.

The most significant increase occurred in Ontario, where permits rose 17.9% to $2.4 billion. In Saskatchewan, permits more than doubled (+115.2%) to $334 million, while in Alberta they were up 11.9% to $1.0 billion. The increases came mainly from the non-residential sector.

The only provinces recording declines were Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and British Columbia.

Metropolitan areas: Large increases in Edmonton and Saskatoon

Of the 34 census metropolitan areas, 19 recorded increases in the value of building permits in September.

The largest increases occurred in Edmonton, the result of gains in both residential and non-residential buildings. Saskatoon and Toronto followed closely, thanks to gains in the non-residential sector.

In contrast, Victoria recorded declines, the result of drops in residential permits. The second consecutive decline in Calgary was due mainly to a decrease in the commercial component.

Available on CANSIM: tables 026-0001 to 026-0008, 026-0010 and 026-0015.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2802.

The September 2008 issue of Building Permits (64-001-XWE, free) will be available soon.

The October building permit estimate will be released on December 4.

To order data, contact Jasmine Gaudreault (toll-free 1-800-579-8533; 613-951-6321; For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bechir Oueriemmi (613-951-1165), Investment and Capital Stock Division.

Tables. Table(s).