B.C. building permit values soar to new high

Posted by Rumin Mann
July 13th, 2010

Metro Vancouver recorded a 78-per-cent increase over last year, but fears of a fallback remain

B.C. has recorded one of the country’s largest increases in the value of building permits over the past year, according to a Statistics Canada report released Tuesday.

The province posted a 53-per-cent increase in May compared with May 2009, to $754 million from $494 million. That included an 11.9-per-cent increase since April 2010.

At the national level, Canada as a whole recorded a 13.9-per-cent increase in values to $5.98 billion from May 2009, as well as a 10.8-percent decrease since April. The decline from April follows two consecutive monthly increases.

All numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Only Prince Edward Island saw a higher percentage increase than B.C. in the value of residential and nonresidential permits since May 2009.

In a separate survey of census metropolitan areas, Metro Vancouver recorded a 78-per-cent increase in building permit values in May over May 2009 to $448 million from $252 million. That included a 28.5-per-cent increase since April.

Abbotsford-Mission recorded a 199-per-cent increase in May compared to May 2009, to $20.8 million from $6.9 million, including a 99-percent increase since April.

Peter Simpson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA), said in an interview that the numbers don’t surprise him although builders are giving him mixed signals.

“Every region [in Metro Vancouver] has recorded increases in housing starts in the January to May period over the same period last year.

“Some are finding [activity] has slowed down, while others have a lot of confidence in the market, finishing existing projects and very interested in launching new ones.”

Simpson said that housing activity has increased over the past few months, although it’s set against 2009, a particularly poor year for starts.

“We’re not dancing in the streets with these [housing starts] numbers, but it is an improvement.”

“If both residential and non-residential are improving, that bodes well for job creation and it’s a positive sign for the economy overall.

“One of our builders delivered a record 52 single-family homes in June.”

Keith Sashaw, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, agreed that the increase in building permit values in the Metro Vancouver-Southwest region from April to May looks good.

“May building-permit values reached the second highest monthly total so far this year,” said Sashaw. “Public or institutional-government permits hit their highest level this year and the third highest since March 2006.”

However, Sashaw also said that May’s jump in permits is a spike “and we may see a slight fallback in June.”

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