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Analysis – February 2009

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The value of building permits fell 15.9% to $3.7 billion in February. The largest decreases came from the non-residential sector in Ontario.

In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.3% to $2.1 billion. The increase in the value of permits for multiple dwellings in British Columbia nearly offset the declines in the residential sector in six provinces.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 30.5% to $1.6 billion. This decline was due to a drop in Ontario and decreases in four other provinces.

The total value of construction intentions declined in half the provinces.

Non-residential sector: Decrease in institutional and commercial components

Following a 64.2% increase in January, the value of permits for institutional components declined 56.4% to $363 million in February. The decrease came mainly from construction intentions for medical buildings in Ontario and Quebec and a decline in permits for educational institutions in Ontario 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.

Permit values for the commercial component declined 20.4% to $972 million. This decrease came largely from construction intentions for office buildings and recreational buildings in Ontario. However, British Columbia experienced the strongest growth in this component.

The value of industrial permits increased 14.3% to $236 million, following a 50.8% decrease in January. The gain in February was a result of increased intentions in six provinces.

The value of residential permits virtually unchanged

The value of permits in the residential sector declined 0.3%, as the increase in multi-family permits nearly offset the decline in single-family permits.

Municipalities issued $756 million worth of permits for multi-family dwellings in February, up 10.6% from January. The value of multi-family dwelling permits nearly quadrupled in British Columbia, while Quebec, Saskatchewan and Ontario reported declines.

The value of single-family permits fell 5.5% in February to $1.3 billion. Intentions in this component have been declining since July 2008. The decrease in February was mainly a result of declines in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Municipalities approved 10,341 new dwellings in February, down 3.2%. Single-family units decreased 6.9% to 5,211. The number of multi-family units rose 0.9% to 5,130 units.

Increase in British Columbia

The value of building permits increased in half the provinces with British Columbia leading the way.

British Columbia reported an 86.5% gain in the value of its permits, spread out among all components.

Ontario experienced a 38.2% decline in the value of its permits. This decrease came from construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings and residential permits.

Quebec (-18.0%) and Saskatchewan (-43.5%) also posted declines in both the residential and non-residential sectors.

Metropolitan areas: Increases in Vancouver

The total value of permits increased in 17 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

Vancouver reported the most significant increases. The advances were generalized except for the industrial component.

In contrast, Toronto saw declines for all components. Barrie followed with decreases that could not be offset by the increase in the value of multiple-family permits.