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Canada May Building Permits Report (Text)

July 06, 2012

Following is the text of the May building permits report from Statistics Canada.

Municipalities issued building permits worth $7.0 billion in May, a 7.4% increase from April and the highest level since May 2007. The increase followed a 4.4% decline in April.

The gain in May was largely the result of higher construction intentions for institutional buildings in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and for multi-family dwellings in British Columbia.

The value of residential building permits increased 8.5% to $4.1 billion, following four consecutive monthly declines. The advance recorded in the residential sector came from five provinces, led by British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.

Non-residential construction intentions rose 6.0% to $2.9 billion after a 7.0% decline the previous month. The increase was the result of higher construction intentions in six provinces, led by Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Residential sector: Intentions up for both multi-family and single-family dwellings

The value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose 17.7% to $1.8 billion, the second monthly increase since the beginning of the year. The gain was mainly attributable to higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Contractors took out $2.3 billion worth of single-family dwelling permits, up 2.1% following four consecutive monthly decreases. Increases in Alberta and Ontario offset declines in six other provinces.

Nationwide, municipalities authorized the construction of 18,682 new dwellings in May, a 13.2% increase from April. The gain was particulary attributable to multi-family dwellings, which increased 22.0% to 11,801 units. Single-family dwellings rose 0.9% to 6,881 units.

Non-residential sector: Significant increase in the institutional component

In the institutional component, the value of permits increased 69.4% to $945 million after falling 42.7% in April. All provinces registered increases, except Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. The increase was largely a result of higher construction intentions for medical facilities in British Columbia, government buildings in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and educational institutions in Quebec and Alberta.

The value of permits in the commercial component fell 12.4% to $1.4 billion in May, following three consecutive monthly advances. The largest declines occurred in Alberta and British Columbia and were a result of lower construction intentions for office buildings, which had posted significant gains in April. Ontario and New Brunswick reported decreases as a result of lower construction intentions for a variety of buildings, including retail buildings, warehouses and recreational facilities.

In the industrial component, the value of building permits declined 4.5% to $549 million, following a 40.0% increase in April. This was a result of lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants and transportation-related buildings, which had recorded increases the previous month. Declines were posted in five provinces, led by Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia.

Intentions up in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta

The value of building permits increased in seven provinces in May, led by British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The increase in British Columbia was the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings. In Saskatchewan, the gain was attributable to higher construction intentions for non- residential buildings, particularly institutional structures. The increase in Alberta came from institutional, residential and industrial buildings.

Quebec posted the largest decrease, mainly as a result of lower construction intentions for industrial buildings and single-family dwellings. The decline in New Brunswick came particularly from commercial and industrial buildings and multi- family dwellings.

Permits value up in half of census metropolitan areas

In May, the total value of permits rose in 17 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest increases occurred in Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa. In Vancouver, the gain was mainly attributable to multi- family dwellings and institutional buildings. In Edmonton, residential and institutional buildings accounted for most of the advance. Higher construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings were largely behind the increase in Ottawa.

Calgary, Thunder Bay and Montréal posted the biggest declines. In Calgary, the decrease came from commercial buildings and, to a lesser degree, institutional buildings.

In Thunder Bay, the decline was attributable to institutional buildings, which had recorded a significant increase in the previous month. Lower construction intentions for commercial, industrial and residential buildings were behind the decline in Montréal.

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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilan Kolet in Ottawa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marco Babic at

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