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The highs and lows of building permits, July 2020

August 31, 2020 | By Anthony Capkun

August 31, 2020 – For the month of July 2020, Statscan reports the total value of building permits fell 3.0% to $7.8 billion, entirely as a result of declines in British Columbia (-34.2% to $1.2 billion), Quebec (-15.1% to $1.5 billion) and Newfoundland & Labrador (-19.0% to $54 million).

Thankfully, this was not the case across the rest of the country, where the value of permits rose, led by a $474-million commercial permit issued in the City of Ottawa for the construction of the 2.7 million-sf Project Python (part of which will house the city’s second Amazon distribution centre).

Residential permits

The total value of residential permits decreased by 6.2% to $5.1 billion in July, largely because of the decline in British Columbia (-39.4%).

Following a 31.1% increase in June, the value of permits issued for multi-family dwellings in B.C. fell by 47.8% to $542 million in July, its lowest level since the onset of the pandemic in March. In Quebec, multi-family permits declined 16.2% to $581 million, following a 13.6% increase in June.

The value of permits issued for single-family homes increased by 3.9% to $2.2 billion in July, driven by gains in Alberta (+12.6%) and Quebec (+6.3%).

Commercial, industrial and institutional permits

The total value of non-residential permits rose 3.3% to $2.7 billion in July, despite declines in industrial and institutional permits.

Commercial permits increased by 29.9% to $1.6 billion in July, mainly due to the $474-million permit issued in the City of Ottawa.

The value of industrial permits declined for the second straight month, falling 15.7% to $462 million in July. The decrease was largely attributable to Quebec, down 37.1% to $170 million.

Following a 43.4% gain in June, the value of institutional permits fell 24.2% to $628 million in July. Ontario (-45.2%) and British Columbia (-50.2%) were behind most of the drop.

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