Building permits rise to $6.8B high

The total value of Canadian building permits continued to rise in March, but the pace of increase is beginning to slow.

The value of Canadian building permits increased by almost five per cent to $6.8 billion in March, its highest point since June 2010.

The gains came on top of a 7.6 per cent increase the previous month, and Statistics Canada said Monday higher construction intentions for both institutional and commercial buildings in Ontario were the main factor in the rise.

Building permits are calculated by adding up the value of construction permits submitted to munipical governments. They are considered a leading economic indicator because they signal people have enough optimism to undertake large construction projects.

Non-residential permits rose 13.9 per cent to $2.9 billion in March, after jumping 37.7 per cent the previous month. But those strong increases were somewhat offset by a decline in the value of residential building permits, which were down 1.3 per cent to $3.9 billion, the third consecutive monthly decrease.

Municipalities across Canada issued permits for the construction of 17,650 new dwellings in March, up 2.1 per cent from February. The increase came from both multi-family dwellings, which rose 2.5 per cent to 10,594 units, and single-family dwellings, which increased 1.4 per cent to 7,056 units.

Overall, the value of permits was up in every province except B.C. and Quebec.

Ontario registered the largest increase, as a result of higher construction intentions for institutional buildings and, to a lesser extent, for commercial buildings.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta posted the second- and third-highest gains, respectively. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the increase came from higher construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings. In Alberta, the advance originated from an increase in the value of permits for residential, industrial and commercial buildings.

British Columbia posted the largest decline, as a result of lower construction intentions for industrial and commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings.

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