Analysis – December 2012
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The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities declined 11.2% to $5.7 billion in December, following a 14.5% decline in November. This decrease resulted from lower construction intentions in both the residential and non-residential sectors.
December's decline in construction intentions came from every province except Quebec, with Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario posting the largest decreases.
Construction intentions in the residential sector fell 13.1% to $3.3 billion, following a 7.0% decrease the previous month. Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba accounted for much of the decline observed at the national level. Newfoundland and Labrador was the lone province that registered an increase.
In the non-residential sector, the value of permits declined 8.5% to $2.5 billion in December, the third decrease in four months. Manitoba posted the largest decline, followed by Alberta. Quebec had the largest increase with Ontario a distant second.
Residential sector: Lower construction intentions for single-family and multi-family dwellings
Municipalities issued $1.1 billion worth of building permits for multi-family dwellings in December, down 24.6% from November. This was the sixth consecutive monthly decrease and the lowest level since February 2011. There were declines in all the provinces, with Ontario posting the largest decrease, followed by Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba.
Construction intentions for single-family units fell 5.3% to $2.1 billion in December, the third straight monthly decrease. The decline was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions in eight provinces, with Ontario posting the largest drop followed by Saskatchewan and British Columbia. By contrast, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador posted gains.
At the national level, municipalities approved the construction of 13,897 new dwellings in December, down 15.2% from November. This decrease was led by a 22.1% decline in multi-family units to 7,630. At the same time, the number of single-family dwellings decreased 4.9% to 6,267 units.
Non-residential sector: Larger decline in the commercial component
In the commercial component, the value of permits declined 10.6% to $1.6 billion in December, following a 26.1% increase in November. The decline was a result of lower construction intentions for various types of commercial buildings, including office buildings, recreational facilities and warehouses. The largest decreases were in Ontario and Alberta. Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island posted increases.
The value of permits in the institutional component fell 5.3% to $498 million, a second consecutive monthly decline. The decrease was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for medical buildings in Alberta and British Columbia as well as educational institutions in British Columbia and Manitoba. Advances were registered in four provinces, led by Ontario.
In the industrial component, the value of permits declined 3.3% to $377 million, the second consecutive monthly decrease. The decline was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants in Manitoba, Quebec and, to a lesser extent, Saskatchewan. Increases in four provinces, led by Ontario, were not enough to offset the declines in the other provinces.
Decreases in all provinces except Quebec
In December, the total value of permits was down in nine provinces, led by Alberta and followed by Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia.
Alberta had the largest decline, primarily because of lower construction intentions for commercial buildings, multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings. In Manitoba, the decrease came in the wake of a record high in November. The decrease was a result of lower construction intentions for both residential and non-residential buildings.
The decrease in Ontario resulted from lower construction intentions for commercial and residential buildings. In British Columbia, declines were posted in both the residential and non-residential sectors.
Quebec was the lone province that reported higher construction intentions in December. The increase was attributable primarily to commercial buildings and, to a lesser extent, to multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings.
Lower permit values in most census metropolitan areas
In December, the total value of permits was down in 20 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.
The largest decreases were in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa. Toronto's decline resulted from lower construction intentions in both the residential and non-residential sectors, with commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings accounting for most of the decrease.
In Winnipeg, the decline was largely attributable to industrial buildings, multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings. All components contributed to the weakness in construction intentions in Vancouver. Similarly, the total value of permits issued in Ottawa was down because of decreases in all components.
In contrast, Hamilton, Montréal and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo posted the largest gains. Hamilton's increase was mostly attributable to commercial and industrial buildings. The advance observed in Montréal came from commercial buildings, as the other components posted declines. In Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, the gain was mostly because of institutional buildings.
Annual 2012: Residential and non-residential construction intentions higher than 2011
In 2012, municipalities issued building permits worth $80.5 billion, up 8.9% from 2011 and surpassing the peak of $74.4 billion reached in 2007 before the recession.
Similarly, contractors took out residential construction permits worth $48.3 billion in 2012, up 8.6% over 2011.
Construction intentions for non-residential buildings were also up, rising 9.2% from 2011 to $32.2 billion in 2012.
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.
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