Economic uncertainty from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused the value of building permits issued across Canada to decrease in March, according to figures from Statistics Canada (StatCan).
According to StatCan, the value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities fell 23.2% in March 2020 to $1.4 billion when compared to the same month last year, with Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec registering the strongest declines – likely reflecting provincial measures put in place mid-month to slow the spread of COVID-19
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Broken down by region, municipalities in central Canada showed the largest declines, as both Ontario and Quebec declared emergencies in mid-March to combat the pandemic. In Montréal, the number of permits filed declined 37.6% in March compared with the same period a year earlier. In Ontario, the value of building permits issued fell by 50.5% compared with March 2019.
Meanwhile, StatCan reported that investment intentions in the Maritime provinces showed resilience with building permits in Halifax surging 153.1%, as both the residential (up $31 million) and non-residential (up $28 million) sectors increased compared with March 2019. Additionally, the number of permits in Charlottetown increased by 31.6% (up 12 permits) from a year ago.
In Western Canada, the value of building permits declined 3.2% to $861 million as the fall in investment intentions for British Columbia (down 26.8%) offset gains made in Alberta (up 11.7%).
“As British Columbia reported many of the earliest Canadian cases of COVID-19, construction intentions likely slowed earlier than in the rest of Western Canada,” said StatCan. “A change in development fee costs in January for Vancouver may also have pulled some permits forward as builders avoided cost increases by submitting permit applications earlier than usual.”