By Anthony Capkun
April 9, 2021 – Statscan reports total investment in building construction increased 4.2% to $16.8 billion in February 2021, posting a record high for the second consecutive month due to continued strength in the residential sector.
On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction was up 3.9% to $13.2 billion in February. Roughly half of the gain in construction investment on a year-over-year basis was attributable to price increases. This likely reflects rising demand and tightening supply for building materials since the start of the pandemic, suggests Statscan.
Non-residential construction investment
For a 5th consecutive month, non-residential construction investment changed little, edging up 0.2% to $4.5 billion in February.
Institutional construction investment was up 0.6%, with six provinces posting increases. Quebec reported the largest gain, attributable partly to high-value renovation projects.
British Columbia reached a record high, with projects such as the construction of Burnaby North Secondary School contributing to growth in this component.
Investment in industrial construction increased 0.5% after two consecutive monthly declines, reaching $810.7 million in February. The continued construction of a national distribution centre for Canadian Tire in Brampton, Ont., and a wastewater treatment plant in Montreal, contributed to gains in this component.
Commercial building construction investment remained at $2.5 billion for the 5th consecutive month. Declines in seven provinces offset a large gain in Ontario, attributable to the ongoing construction of multiple high-value projects in Toronto, Ottawa and Pickering.
Residential construction investment
Consecutive record levels have been reported for investment in residential construction since September 2020, reaching a new high of $12.3 billion in February.
The majority of this growth stemmed from single-family home construction, which rose for a 5th consecutive month—up 9.4% to $6.7 billion in February.
Single-family homes being built in census metropolitan areas (CMAs) continued to drive the growth; however, record highs were set both in and outside these CMAs. Investment outside CMAs increased 37.6% compared with February 2020, the largest year-over-year increase this component has reported since comparable data was available (back to 2011).
The strength of single-family home investment in recent months may be partly attributable to an increased demand for more living space as Canada approaches the end of the first year of the pandemic, Statscan suggests.
Multi-unit construction investment also rose in February, up 1.6% to $5.7 billion. Investment in Ontario for this component increased for a 10th consecutive month, with ongoing construction projects such as the Time and Space condominium complex in Toronto.
Saskatchewan saw growth surge 69.4% in this sector, attributable partly to new projects such as apartment buildings in Saskatoon’s University Heights Suburban Centre.