Analysis – October 2011

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After three consecutive monthly decreases, the value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose 11.9% to $6.3 billion in October. The increase came from the non-residential sector, particularly in Ontario.

The increase in construction intentions in October was attributable to six provinces, led by Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta posted the largest decline and its second straight monthly decrease.

The value of non-residential permits rose 32.8% to $2.7 billion in October, following three consecutive monthly declines. Institutional buildings in Ontario and industrial buildings in Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba were behind the majority of the increase in the non-residential sector.

In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.1% to $3.6 billion in October. This was the component's third straight monthly decline. The decrease in October was primarily the result of lower construction intentions for both multi-family and single-family dwellings in Alberta and for multi-family dwellings in Nova Scotia.

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.

Non-residential sector: Significant increases in the institutionaland industrial components

After two consecutive monthly declines, the value of permits in the institutional component advanced 178.3% to $1.0 billion. The increase was the result of higher construction intentions for a variety of buildings in several provinces, including medical buildings, government buildings and educational institutions. In October, the value of institutional permits was up in six provinces, led by Ontario.

The value of industrial permits rose 33.3% to $520 million in October, a third consecutive monthly increase. October's gain was a result of higher construction intentions for manufacturing plants in several provinces, including Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, and for utilities buildings in Manitoba and Alberta. The increase recorded in October was attributable to eight provinces. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, however, posted declines.

The value of permits in the commercial component declined 9.6% to $1.2 billion in October. Decreases were recorded in seven provinces, led by Alberta. In contrast, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island recorded increases in the value of commercial permits.

Residential sector: Construction intentions for multi-familydwellings down

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings declined 0.4% to $1.4 billion in October, a third straight monthly decrease. This movement was attributable to six provinces, led by Nova Scotia and Alberta. In contrast, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia registered increases.

The value of single-family dwellings edged up 0.1% to $2.2 billion, a value that has remained almost unchanged since August 2011. Higher construction intentions in seven provinces, including Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec, offset declines in Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 15,971 new dwellings, down 4.9% from September. The number of permits issued for multi-family dwellings declined 7.8% to 9,206 units. The number of single-family dwellings edged down 0.7% to 6,765 units.

Value of permits up in most provinces

Construction intentions were up in six provinces, with Ontario posting the largest increase, followed by Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia.

In Ontario, the increase was attributable to both the residential and non-residential sectors, particularly institutional buildings. In Saskatchewan, multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings accounted for much of the increase, while the growth in Newfoundland and Labrador was a result of commercial buildings. In British Columbia, all components contributed to the increase, except the commercial component.

In contrast, Alberta recorded the largest decline, primarily as a result of a decrease in construction intentions for commercial and residential buildings. Nova Scotia posted the second-largest decrease, mostly because of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings.

Significant increases in construction intentions in Torontoand London

In October, the value of permits issued by Canadian municipalities was up in 15 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest increases were in Toronto, London and Montréal. Toronto's increase was attributable to institutional and commercial buildings and, to a lesser extent, multi-family and single-family dwellings. The increase posted in London was mainly attributable to institutional buildings. In Montréal, permits for industrial and commercial buildings accounted for much of the increase.

On the other hand, the largest declines were in Barrie, Québec and Calgary. In Barrie, a decrease in construction intentions for commercial buildings and single-family dwellings more than offset the increase in the other components. Québec's decline was the result of lower intentions in all components except institutional buildings. Lower construction intentions for commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings were behind Calgary's decrease.