Building Permits Plummet 48 %

May building permit values fall in Abbotsford
Non-residential value gains not enough to offset large residential value decline. Bucking National trend.

Submitted.Building permit values in Abbotsford fell 48 per cent in May 2014 from April (seasonally adjusted), with non-residential permit values rising while residential values fell, according to Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s regional analysis of today’s Statistics Canada Building Permit Report.

“Abbotsford permits declined in May due to a large drop in residential permits, while non-residential permits rose mainly on the reemergence of commercial permits,” said Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA). “We predict the overall value decline to slow however, as Abbotsford’s economy has begun to display sustained growth signs for the first time in several years. This is expected to continue setting the stage for more investment in residential, commercial and industrial investment.”

Seasonally adjusted non-residential permit values rose 39 per cent to $6.5 million in May 2014 from $4.7 million in April. Industrial permits fell 62 per cent to $0.4 million, while institutional-government permits were up two per cent from April at $3.7 million. Commercial permits came in at $2.4 million after no permits were issued in April. The seasonally adjusted value of residential permits declined 75 per cent to $3.6 million in May 2014 from April’s $14.6 million.

VRCA’s outlook for Abbotsford in 2014 is positive, with a gain in total building permits likely over 2013.

Regional Building Permit Highlights

  • Seasonally adjusted total building permit values in the Abbotsford CMA fell 48 per cent to $10.1 million in May 2014 compared to $19.3 million in April 2014.
  • Non-residential permits increased 39 per cent to $6.5 million from $4.7 million.
  • Residential building permits fell 75 per cent to $3.6 million from $14.6 million.
  • Total building permit values in Abbotsford were five per cent higher to $80.7 million in the first five months of 2014 compared to $76.6 million in the same period last year.
  • Non-residential permits were 68 per cent higher at $38.6 million.
  • Residential permits were 11 per cent at $44.3 million.
  • Total building permit values jumped 55 per cent in the Lower Mainland-Southwest region to $657.5 million in May 2014 compared to $423.5 million in April 2014.

With close to 700 members, VRCA is British Columbia’s largest and most inclusive regional construction association, representing union and non-union, general and trade contracting companies, manufacturers, suppliers and other professionals throughout the Lower Mainland from Hope to Whistler.

National Building Permits

From Statscan

Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.9 billion in May, up 13.8% from April. This followed a 2.2% rise in the previous month. The increase in May resulted primarily from higher construction intentions for commercial buildings in Ontario and Manitoba, as well as multi-family dwellings in British Columbia. The total value of permits has been on a slight upward trend since the beginning of 2014.

Gains were posted in every province in May, except Quebec and Nova Scotia. Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba registered the largest increases.

Chart 1
Total value of permits

The higher variability associated with the trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart for the current reference month and the three previous months. See note to readers.

Chart description: Total value of permits

CSV version of chart 1

Construction intentions for residential dwellings rose 9.5% to $4.1 billion in May, the third consecutive monthly increase. Higher residential construction intentions were registered in eight provinces, led by British Columbia, followed by Ontario and the other western provinces. Nova Scotia posted the largest decline following two consecutive monthly gains.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 20.8% to $2.8 billion. Gains were posted in seven provinces, led by Ontario and Manitoba. Quebec, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia posted declines following large increases in all three provinces in April.

Residential sector: Higher construction intentions in both multi-family and single-family dwellings

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 16.1% to $1.9 billion in May, a third consecutive monthly advance. Higher construction intentions for apartments and apartments-condominium projects in British Columbia and, to a lesser extent, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan contributed to this gain. Nova Scotia, Quebec and Prince Edward Island posted declines.

The value of building permits for single-family dwellings rose 4.6% to $2.3 billion in May. This was the second consecutive monthly increase. Advances were posted in eight provinces, with Ontario recording the largest gain. British Columbia and Saskatchewan registered declines.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 17,415 new dwellings in May, up 11.8% from April. This increase was mostly attributable to multi-family dwellings, which rose 17.3% to 11,330 units. The number of single-family dwellings increased 2.8% to 6,085 units.

Chart 2
Residential and non-residential sectors

The higher variability associated with the trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart for the current reference month and the three previous months. See note to readers.

Chart description: Residential and non-residential sectors

CSV version of chart 2

Non-residential sector: Significant rise in the commercial component

In May, the value of non-residential building permits registered its largest monthly gain since July 2013. This advance resulted from a strong increase in construction intentions for commercial buildings.

Construction intentions for commercial buildings rose 39.4% to $1.8 billion, the highest level so far in 2014. The advance came from higher construction intentions in a variety of commercial buildings, including warehouses, retail complexes, recreational facilities as well as hotels and restaurants. Gains were posted in nine provinces, with Ontario and Manitoba registering the largest advances.

In the industrial component, the value of permits rose 22.4% to $441 million. The increase was largely attributable to higher construction intentions for manufacturing plants in Quebec and Alberta, as well as primary industry buildings in British Columbia. Declines were registered in three provinces, with Ontario posting the largest decrease.

In the institutional component, the value of permits fell 16.6% to $555 million. This followed a 37.5% increase in April. The value of institutional building permits was down in five provinces. The decrease in May resulted from lower construction intentions for government buildings in Quebec and medical facilities in Saskatchewan. Alberta and British Columbia recorded large increases, as a result of higher construction intentions for educational institutions.

Provinces: Ontario posts the largest advance

The total value of permits was up in eight provinces in May, led by Ontario, followed by British Columbia and Manitoba.

Ontario posted substantial increases in commercial and single-family construction intentions.

The increase in British Columbia was mostly the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and non-residential buildings. Gains in commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings led the increase in Manitoba.

In contrast, the decline in Quebec was the result of lower construction intentions for institutional buildings and multi-family dwellings.

Higher construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

Construction intentions were up in 23 of Canada’s 34 census metropolitan areas in May.

The largest increases were in Toronto, followed by Vancouver and Winnipeg. In Toronto, the advance was largely attributable to commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings. The gain in Vancouver was mainly the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, whereas in Winnipeg, the increase came from commercial buildings.

In contrast, London, Hamilton and Québec posted the largest declines in the total value of building permits. Lower construction intentions in all components, except single-family dwellings, were the reason for the decrease in London. In Hamilton, the decline originated from institutional buildings and multi-family dwellings, while in Québec, commercial buildings were mainly responsible for the decrease.

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