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StatsCan building permits report: April 2021


June 3, 2021
By Stats Canada

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The total value of building permits remained at historically high levels in April 2021, edging down 0.5% to $11.1 billion, following the record set in March. The slight pullback was mainly due to declines in the residential sector in British Columbia and Quebec, which outweighed national gains in the non-residential sector.

On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), building permits were largely unchanged (-0.0%).

Residential sector remains strong despite decrease in April

In the residential sector, the value of building permits fell 6.7% to $7.7 billion in April. Despite the decrease, this was the second highest value on record. British Columbia (-23.7%) and Quebec (-14.9%) accounted for most of this decline.

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The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings dropped 6.5% to $4.1 billion. Gains in Ontario and Alberta were not enough to offset decreases in British Columbia and Quebec, where several large permits had been issued (in both provinces) during the previous month.

Eight provinces reported a decline in the value of permits issued for single-family dwellings, with the national total down 7.0% to $3.6 billion, mainly as a result of fewer new projects in Ontario and Quebec.

Commercial and institutional components boost the non-residential sector

Commercial permits surged 28.7% to $1.9 billion in April. A $97 million permit for the Sick Kids patient support centre in the city of Toronto and an $80 million permit for the Centennial Community and Aquatics Centre in the city of New Westminster were among several large permits that were issued in the month. In contrast, the largest commercial permit issued nationwide in March was valued at $43 million and was for a warehouse in the city of Pickering.

The value of institutional permits increased 23.1% to $910 million, led by Quebec (+135.7%), which rebounded from a 53.6% drop the previous month. Quebec issued numerous large permits in April, such as for a new hospital in the city of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu ($56 million) and for a new seniors’ care centre in the city of Belœil ($43 million).

The value of industrial permits fell 13.2% in April to $592 million. Ontario (-36.5%) accounted for most of the decrease, as fewer permits for large projects were issued in the province compared with the previous month.

Overall, the value of building permits in the non-residential sector climbed 17.4% to $3.4 billion.