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October 2008 (Previous release)

The total value of building permits decreased 15.7% to $5.4 billion in October. Construction intentions fell in both the residential and non-residential sectors, and in all provinces except Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chart 1
Value of permits decreases in October

The value of non-residential permits declined 23.9% to $2.4 billion following a 41.0% increase in September. October's decrease occurred mainly as a result of a decline in non-residential components in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Municipalities issued $3.0 billion in permits for the residential sector in October, down 7.8%. It was the third consecutive monthly drop, and was a result of declines in both single and multiple dwellings. Provincially, British Columbia registered the largest decrease, as a result of declines in the value of multi-family permits.

On a year-to-date (January to October) basis, the total value of building permits issued by municipalities reached $60.9 billion, down 2.3% from the same period in 2007. The residential sector decreased by 6.5%, while the non-residential sector was 4.2% higher.

Non-residential sector: Declines in all three components

The value of permits declined in all three components of the non-residential sector.

The value of institutional permits fell by 27.7% to $731 million after more than doubling (+114.0%) in September. The decrease came mostly from lower construction intentions for medical projects in Ontario and educational projects in Saskatchewan.

Despite the decline, the value of institutional permits in October was 27.5% higher than the average monthly level of 2007.

In the industrial component, contractors took out permits worth $388 million, down 41.5% from September. This followed a 60.9% increase the month before. The decrease came mostly from maintenance buildings in Ontario and utility buildings in Alberta.

In the commercial component, the value of permits decreased 13.4% to $1.3 billion, after a 9.7% increase in September. The lower demand for permits associated with office and recreation buildings in both Ontario and Alberta was behind this decline.

On a year-to-date basis, the institutional and industrial components experienced increases of 16.1% and 5.8% respectively. On the other hand, the largest component (the commercial) was down 0.9% from the same period in 2007.

Residential sector: Declines in both single- and multi-family permits

The value of single-family permits decreased 6.0% to $2.0 billion, the fourth consecutive monthly retreat.

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.

All provinces, except Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, recorded a decline in the value of single-family permits in October. The largest declines (in dollars) occurred in Alberta and British Columbia.

Municipalities issued $1.0 billion worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in October, down 10.9% from September and the third consecutive monthly decrease. Although seven provinces reported a decrease in October, British Columbia accounted for most of the decline at the national level. Alberta and Saskatchewan registered increases.

Municipalities approved 14,454 new dwellings in October, down 9.8% from September. Of these, 7,376 were multi-family units, down 12.4%, while 7,078 were single-family units, a 6.9% decline.

Chart 2
Decreases in both the residential and non-residential sectors

Permits down in most provinces

The value of building permits fell in eight provinces in October.

The most significant decreases occurred in Ontario, (-24.8% to $1.8 billion), Saskatchewan (-58.7% to $138 million) and Alberta (-17.5% to $844 million). The decreases came mainly from the non-residential sector. In contrast, all three provinces recorded increases of at least 10% in September.

Quebec reported an 8.5% increase to $1.3 billion, as a result of higher construction intentions in industrial and institutional buildings. Newfoundland and Labrador also reported an increase as a result of gains in commercial intentions.

Metropolitan areas: Large decreases in Toronto and Saskatoon

Of the 34 census metropolitan areas, 19 recorded decreases in the value of building permits in October.

The largest declines occurred in Toronto, followed by Saskatoon and Edmonton, mostly as a result of drops in the non-residential sector.

The value of permits rose in Guelph as a result of increases in non-residential permits. After two consecutive monthly declines, Calgary registered increases in both the residential and non-residential sectors.

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

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2802.

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

The November building permit estimate will be released on January 9, 2009.

To order data, contact Joanne Bureau (toll-free 1-800-579-8533; 613-951-9689). For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Nicole Charron (613-951-0087), Investment and Capital Stock Division.

Table 1
Value of building permits, by census metropolitan area

Table 2
Value of building permits, by province and territory