Building permits, October 2020
Municipalities issued building permits worth $8.2 billion in October, down 14.6% from the previous month. September's peak was the second highest value on record, with October's results more in line with recent months.
Commercial permits in Ontario fall to earth after record month
The total value of non-residential permits fell 29.5% to $2.5 billion in October, after there were several large permits issued the prior month. Ontario (-$868 million) was responsible for over four-fifths of the decline.
Commercial permits set a record decline, falling 40.9% to $1.2 billion in October, the lowest level since November 2011. The value of commercial permits in Ontario fell by 64.4%, following a record set in September due to the high-value permits issued for Project Python in Ottawa and the Breithaupt Block office buildings in Kitchener. Excluding Ontario, commercial permits for the rest of the country were stable compared with the previous month.
Industrial permits were down 19.8% in October to $582 million, with declines posted in every province. Quebec (-$60 million) and Prince Edward Island (-$55 million) recorded the most significant declines, with the latter issuing a permit for a manufacturing plant worth $50 million in the prior month.
Despite a gain of 153.7% or $79 million in Alberta, institutional permits decreased 9.9% nationally to $723 million. Quebec (-31.2%), Ontario (-15.5%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-99.3%) registered the largest declines. The drop in Newfoundland and Labrador followed a $43 million jump in Corner Brook for a long-term care home permit issued in September.
Residential sector continues to show strength despite October declines
Although the total value of residential permits decreased 5.9% to $5.7 billion in October after a record high in September, the value of residential permits continued to show strength. Excluding Ontario (-9.4%) and British Columbia (-12.0%), the rest of the country reported a slight increase for the month.
Following five consecutive monthly gains throughout the pandemic, permits issued for single-family dwellings declined 2.2% to $2.7 billion in October. Declines were reported in three provinces: Ontario (-8.7%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-8.0%) and New Brunswick (-3.4%). Nova Scotia posted the largest gain (+26.0%) as the city of Halifax cleared up a previous backlog of permits.
Permits issued for multi-family dwellings dropped 9.0% to $3.0 billion, with Ontario (-10.0%) and British Columbia (-18.2%) recording the most significant declines. Conversely, Nova Scotia (+79.5%) reported the largest increase as Halifax also cleared a backlog of permits for multi-family dwellings.
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Dwelling units, value of residential and non-residential building permits, Canada – Seasonally adjusted
Note to readers
Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate month-to-month comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.
The Building Permits Survey covers over 2,400 municipalities, representing 95% of the Canadian population. 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.
Building permit data are used as a leading indicator of activity in the construction industry.
The value of planned construction activities presented in this release excludes engineering projects (such as waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.
For the purposes of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario and Quebec) is divided into two areas: the Ottawa part and the Gatineau part.
Unless otherwise specified, the highlights refer to seasonally adjusted current dollars and are ranked in terms of dollar change rather than percentage change.
Single-family dwellings: Residential buildings containing only one dwelling unit (for example, single-detached house, bungalow, linked home [linked at the foundation]).
Multi-family dwellings: Residential buildings containing multiple dwelling units (for example, apartment, apartment condominium, row house, semi-detached house).
Industrial buildings: Buildings used in the processing or production of goods, or related to transportation and communication.
Commercial buildings: Buildings used in the trade or distribution of goods and services.
Institutional and government buildings: Buildings used to house public and semi-public services, such as those related to health and welfare, education, or public administration, as well as buildings used for religious services.
Unadjusted data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Data for the previous two months have been revised. Seasonally adjusted data for the previous three months have also been revised.
Trend-cycle estimates have been added to the charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. Both seasonally adjusted data and trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially at the end of the series. The higher variability associated with trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart.
For information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.
Data on building permits for November will be released on December 24.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).