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Building permits, July 2013

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Released: 2013-09-09

Contractors took out building permits worth $8.0 billion in July, up 20.7% from June. The total value of building permits continued to trend upward on the strength of six gains in seven months.

The increase in July came mainly from higher construction intentions for commercial buildings in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table
Total value of permits

Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table

In the non-residential sector, the total value of building permits rose 45.5% to $3.9 billion in July. Ontario, Quebec and Alberta accounted for most of the increase. Decreases were recorded in four provinces, led by New Brunswick.

Following a 12.8% decline in June, the total value of permits in the residential sector increased 4.1% to $4.1 billion in July. The value of residential building permits was up in five provinces, led largely by Quebec, followed by Alberta and Ontario. British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia accounted for most of the declines in July.

Non-residential sector: Significant increase in the commercial component

Canadian municipalities issued $2.6 billion worth of commercial building permits in July, up 89.2% from June. This increase was the result of higher construction intentions for a variety of commercial buildings, including office buildings, retail complexes and recreational facilities. Gains were posted in seven provinces, led by Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. In contrast, British Columbia and New Brunswick posted the largest declines.

After decreasing 27.9% in June, the total value of industrial building permits rose 11.6% to $505 million in July. Although gains were posted in eight provinces, these failed to offset June's decline. The increase was mainly the result of higher construction intentions for utilities buildings in Alberta and Quebec and for manufacturing plants in British Columbia and Ontario.

In the institutional component, the value of permits fell 6.5% to $791 million in July. This was the third decrease in four months. The value of institutional building permits was down in four provinces. Alberta and Quebec accounted for much of the decrease as a result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities and educational institutions.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table
Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table

Residential sector: Construction intentions up for both single-family and multi-family dwellings

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings rose 4.1% in July to $2.2 billion. The increase in July failed to offset the decline in June. Higher construction intentions were posted in six provinces, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for most of the national advance.

Building permits for multi-family dwellings rose 4.2% to $1.9 billion in July. The gain in July was the fourth increase in five months. Higher construction intentions for apartments and apartments-condominium projects in Quebec and Alberta contributed to the gain in July. Decreases were registered in five provinces, with British Columbia posting the largest decline, followed by Nova Scotia, a distant second.

Canadian municipalities authorized the construction of 17,504 new dwellings, 0.7% less than in June. The decrease was attributable to multi-family dwellings, which fell 3.0% to 11,193 units. Single-family dwellings increased 3.7% to 6,311 units.

Provinces: Large gains in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta

The value of permits was up in six provinces in July, led by Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

The largest increase occurred in Ontario and was mainly a result of higher construction intentions for commercial buildings, single-family dwellings and industrial buildings. In Quebec, the monthly gain was attributable to commercial buildings, residential dwellings and, to a lesser extent, industrial buildings.

In Alberta, the rise originated largely from higher construction intentions for commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings.

The largest drop occurred in British Columbia, as a result of a decline in multi-family dwellings and commercial building intentions. In Saskatchewan, industrial construction intentions largely contributed to the decrease.

Significant increases in construction intentions in Toronto, Calgary and Montréal

The total value of permits was down in half of Canada's 34 census metropolitan areas.

In July, the largest gains in the total value of permits were in Toronto, Calgary and Montréal. In Toronto, the increase was principally attributable to commercial buildings. Higher construction intentions for commercial buildings and, to a much lesser extent, institutional buildings explained the gain in Calgary. In Montréal, commercial buildings and, to a lesser degree, residential dwellings were behind the increase.

On the other hand, the total value of permits decreased in Vancouver, followed by Hamilton and London. In Vancouver, commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings were responsible for the decline, while in Hamilton institutional buildings were behind the decrease. In London, lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings accounted for the decline.

  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

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 for the entire population.

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.


Data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Data have been revised for the previous month.

The trend-cycle estimates have been added to the charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. Both the seasonally adjusted and the trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and even lead to a reversal of movement, especially at the end of the series. The higher variability associated with the trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart.

The July 2013 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

Building permits data for August will be released on October 7.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jeremie Bennett (613-951-0793), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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