Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ottawa Building Permits Down Sharply So Far This Year

Building intentions in Ottawa are running well behind 2005 levels, in sharp contract to continuing gains in construction activity in the rest of the country.

Statistics Canada reports the value of building permits issued in Ottawa for the first two months of the year was down 36.9 per cent compared to last year. It is likely however that the 2005 figures were skewed by a large number of projects booked early in the year.

Non-residential construction is down almost 60 per cent from last year, with declines in all sectors---industrial, commercial and institutional building. The value of residential permits is up 8 per cent for the first two months of the year, with gains in both single and multi-family construction.

It's a different story across the country however, where the agency reports a rebound in construction intentions in February.

It says municipalities handed out $5.2 billion in permits, up 3.6 per cent from the previous month. Non-residential permits rose 14.4 per cent, after a 13.4 per cent decline in January.

Homebuilders, on the other hand, took out $3.4 billion in permits, down 1.5 per cent and the second consecutive retreat from the record high set in December. The value of single-family permits fell for the first time in eight months.

Still, February's level of residential activity was 5 per cent above the monthly average for all of 2005.

Regionally, 22 out of the 28 cities surveyed by Statscan showed faster starts than in 2005. Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver showed the largest gains, thanks to their dynamic housing sectors. The six cities posting declines were all in Ontario.



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