Issue 20-95: Building Permits

May 27, 2020

The value of building permits (seasonally adjusted) issued by B.C. municipalities went up 16.4% in April compared to March. An increase in the value of residential permits (+36.9%) more than offset a decline in planned non-residential (-15.8%) construction in April. The gains were concentrated in Vancouver (+15.5%) and Kelowna (+6.4%). The value of building permits in Victoria fell by 37.2% in the month.

The value of building permits in British Columbia dropped by 61.3% in April compared to the same month a year earlier. The decrease was widespread among all building categories except institutional and governmental building permits which were 65.1% in April compared to a year ago. The main driver of the decrease was a decline of 62.4% in residential building permits. The value of non-residential building permits fell 58.2% in the same period. The reduction could be partially attributed to provincial measures to flatten the curve with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, which have imposed some restrictions on working conditions and created a great deal of economic uncertainty surrounding the full impacts of the stay-at-home orders.

Nationally, the value of building permits fell 17.1% in April, with declines in both residential (-14.2%) and non-residential (-21.9%) permits. The decrease in residential permits was due to a drop in single-family building permits (-35.9%) offsetting an increase in multiple-family building permits (+4.8%) for the month. All categories of non-residential building permits saw declines in the period. British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador (+186.4%) were the only two provinces to report an increase in the month.

Overall, the value of Canadian building permits went down by 38.9% in in April compared to April 2019, with both residential (-33.2%) and non-residential (-48.3%) building permits contributing to the decrease. Declines were observed in every province, with the largest dollar decreases in the value of building permits in British Columbia and Quebec (-51.2%).

Data Source: Statistics Canada