By Anthony Capkun
December 2, 2020 – Municipalities issued building permits worth $8.2 billion in October, down 14.6% from the previous month. September’s peak was the second-highest value on record, with October’s results more in line with recent months.
Statscan’s October 2020 Building Permits report also shows the total value of non-residential permits fell 29.5% to $2.5 billion in October, after several large permits were issued the prior month. Ontario (-$868 million) was responsible for over 4/5 of the decline.
In fact, commercial permits set a record decline, falling 40.9% to $1.2 billion in October—the lowest level since November 2011. The value of commercial permits in Ontario fell by 64.4%, following a record set in September due to the high-value permits issued for Project Python in Ottawa and the Breithaupt Block office buildings in Kitchener.
Excluding Ontario, commercial permits for the rest of the country were stable compared with the previous month.
Industrial permits were down 19.8% in October to $582 million, with declines posted in every province. Quebec (-$60 million) and Prince Edward Island (-$55 million) recorded the most significant declines, with the latter issuing a permit for a manufacturing plant worth $50 million in the prior month.
Despite a gain of 153.7% or $79 million in Alberta, institutional permits decreased 9.9% nationally to $723 million. Quebec (-31.2%), Ontario (-15.5%) and Newfoundland & Labrador (-99.3%) registered the largest declines. The drop in Newfoundland & Labrador followed a $43 million jump in Corner Brook for a long-term care home permit issued in September.
Although the total value of residential permits decreased 5.9% to $5.7 billion in October (after a record high in September), the value of residential permits continued to show strength. Excluding Ontario (-9.4%) and British Columbia (-12%), the rest of the country reported a slight increase for the month.
Following five consecutive monthly gains throughout the pandemic, permits issued for single-family dwellings declined 2.2% to $2.7 billion in October. Declines were reported in three provinces: Ontario (-8.7%), Newfoundland & Labrador (-8%) and New Brunswick (-3.4%). Nova Scotia posted the largest gain (+26%) as the city of Halifax cleared up a previous backlog of permits.
Permits issued for multi-family dwellings dropped 9% to $3 billion, with Ontario (-10%) and British Columbia (-18.2%) recording the most significant declines. Conversely, Nova Scotia (+79.5%) reported the largest increase as, again, Halifax cleared a backlog of permits.