Building permits

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December 2011 (Previous release)

Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.8 billion in December, up 11.1% from November. This is the highest level since June 2007. The advance in December was due primarily to an increase in multi-family dwellings in Ontario and commercial buildings in Alberta.

Total value of permits

 Total value of permits

Chart description: Total value of permits

In the residential sector, the value of permits rose 16.1% to $4.5 billion. It was the second consecutive monthly increase. Ontario accounted for much of the growth recorded at the national level.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits grew 2.8% to $2.4 billion in December, following a 15.1% decline in November. Alberta posted a large increase, which more than offset declines in most provinces.

The total value of building permits was up in five provinces, led by Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. British Columbia had the largest decrease.

Residential sector: Significant increase for multi-family dwellings in Ontario

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 28.9% to $1.9 billion. It was the second consecutive monthly increase and the highest level recorded since December 2005. The growth was due to major condominium and apartment building projects initiated in Ontario.

Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates 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 (for example, 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.


Preliminary data are provided for the current reference month. Revised data, based on late responses, are updated for the previous month.

Municipalities issued $2.6 billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in December, 8.1% more than in November. The increase was attributable to higher construction intentions in six provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta.

Nationally, municipalities approved the construction of 19,015 new dwellings in December, up 13.0% from November. The increase was largely due to multi-family dwellings, which rose 19.1% to 11,560 units. The number of single-family dwellings rose 4.7% to 7,455 units.

Residential and non-residential sectors

 Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart description: Residential and non-residential sectors

Non-residential sector: Increase in the commercial component

In the commercial component, municipalities issued permits worth $1.6 billion in December, a 41.0% increase following two monthly declines. The increase is largely attributable to higher construction intentions for office buildings and warehouse facilities in Alberta, as well as hotels in Ontario.

The value of industrial building permits declined 24.2% to $353 million in December. It was the second consecutive monthly decrease. The decline was mostly due to lower construction intentions in all provinces except Quebec. The largest decreases were in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. These provinces posted lower construction intentions in a wide range of industrial buildings, including transportation-related buildings and manufacturing plants. Quebec's advance was due to manufacturing plants.

In the institutional component, the value of building permits declined 42.2% to $402 million, down for a second consecutive month after peaking at more than $1 billion in October 2011. Institutional construction intentions decreased in six provinces. The largest declines were in construction intentions for educational institutions in Ontario, health care facilities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and government buildings in British Columbia.

Large increases in Ontario and Alberta

The value of building permits was up in five provinces.

Ontario's increase was mainly attributable to permits for multi-family dwellings and hotels. In Alberta, permits for office buildings and warehouses rose. In Quebec, the increase was due to the value of building permits for single-family dwellings and manufacturing plants. In Nova Scotia, the growth was attributable to an increase in commercial buildings. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the growth resulted from higher construction intentions for single-family dwellings.

The largest declines were in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. All three provinces posted decreases in both residential and non-residential sectors.

Higher permit values in half of the census metropolitan areas

The total value of permits was up in 17 of Canada's 34 census metropolitan areas.

Toronto had the largest increase, followed by Calgary. Toronto's increase was mostly attributable to building permits for multi-family dwellings. In Calgary, the advance was largely due to construction intentions for commercial buildings and single-family dwellings.

The largest declines were in Ottawa and Vancouver. In Ottawa, the decrease was due to the residential and non-residential sectors, as both had posted advances in November. Vancouver's decline was mainly attributable to a decrease in the value of permits for multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings, which had recorded large increases in November.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables 026-0001 to 026-0008 and 026-0010.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2802.

The December 2011 issue of Building Permits (64-001-X, free) will be available soon.

The January building permit data will be released on March 7.

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 Mariane Bien-Aimé (613-951-7520), Investment, Science and Technology Division.