Analysis – October 2014

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The total value of building permits was $7.5 billion in October, edging up 0.7% from September. The increase came mainly from higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The value of non-residential building permits increased 2.4% from the previous month to $3.1 billion in October. Gains were posted in five provinces, led by British Columbia, followed by Quebec, a distant second. Yukon also posted a noticeable increase in October. Ontario registered the largest decrease, following a notable increase in September.

In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.4% to $4.5 billion in October, following a 7.4% increase in September. Residential construction intentions fell in five provinces, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for most of the decline at the national level. Alberta and Nova Scotia posted the largest increases.

Non-residential sector: Higher construction intentions for industrial and institutional buildings

In October, construction intentions in the industrial component rose 34.4% to $614 million, following a 4.4% increase in September. This increase was the result of higher construction intentions for utilities buildings and manufacturing plants. The advance was observed in five provinces, led by Ontario, followed by Saskatchewan. Manitoba registered the largest decrease.

The value of building permits in the institutional component was up 6.2% to $909 million in October, following an 88.2% increase a month earlier. The October advance was the result of higher construction intentions for medical facilities in British Columbia as well as nursing homes and retirement residences in several provinces. Intentions rose in four provinces, led by British Columbia. In contrast, Ontario recorded the largest decrease, following a notable increase in the previous month.

In the commercial component, the value of permits fell 8.1% to $1.5 billion in October, following a 6.2% advance the previous month. This was the lowest level since April of this year. The decline came from lower construction intentions in a variety of commercial buildings at the national level, including office buildings, recreational facilities, retail and wholesale outlets, retail complexes and service stations. Decreases were posted in four provinces, with Ontario posting the largest decline. British Columbia posted the biggest gain.

Residential sector: Decline in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings

Canadian municipalities issued $2.0 billion worth of building permits for multi-family dwellings in October, 0.9% less than in September. This decrease was largely the result of lower construction intentions in six provinces, with Quebec registering the largest decline. Nova Scotia posted the largest gain, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In October, the value of building permits for single-family dwellings was $2.4 billion, the same level as in September. Gains were posted in six provinces, led by Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, while Ontario registered the largest decrease.

At the national level, Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 18,354 new dwellings, down 0.6% from the previous month. The decline was attributable to a 0.9% decrease in the number of multi-family dwellings to 11,948 units and a 0.2% decline in the number of single-family dwellings to 6,406 units.

Provinces: Large increase in British Columbia

The total value of permits increased in four provinces in October, led by British Columbia, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan.

British Columbia's gain was primarily attributable to higher construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings. In Alberta, all components, except institutional buildings, were responsible for the increase, while in Saskatchewan, the advance was the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings.

After posting a 38.0% gain in September, Ontario posted the largest decline in October. This decrease was due primarily to lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, following large increases in both components a month earlier. Manitoba was a distant second, with a decrease in construction intentions for non-residential buildings.

Higher construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

In October, the total value of permits was up in 19 of the 34 census metropolitan areas, led by Vancouver, followed by Edmonton and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo.

The gain in Vancouver was largely attributable to higher construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings. In Edmonton, commercial buildings contributed the most to the increase, while in Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, the advance came from multi-family dwellings.

Toronto had the largest decline, followed by Ottawa and Québec. Following the strong gain in September, the value of building permits issued in Toronto decreased as a result of lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings. The decline in Ottawa was primarily the result of lower construction intentions for both multi-family and single-family dwellings, which had posted sharp gains the previous month. In Québec, the decrease came from multi-family dwellings and non-residential buildings.

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 Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the 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 permits data are used as a leading indicator of activity in the construction industry.

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.

Revision

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

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.

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