National building pace quickens

Municipalities issued $6.8 billion in building permits, a 17.2% increase from February and the highest level since June 2007. Statistics Canada attributed the gains primarily to Ontario in both residential and non-residential sectors.

Nationally, residential permits had the biggest gain, rising 33.9% to reach $4 billion in March, following two straight months of declines in that sector. It was the highest level in the residential sector in a year.

Non-residential permits were slightly down 0.4% to reach $2.8 billion in March, but that was on the heels of a 72.7% increase in February.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits edged down 0.4% to $2.8 billion, following a 72.7% increase in February. Lower construction intentions for industrial and commercial permits more than offset a record high value for institutional permits. Alberta recorded the largest drop in March in the non-residential sector, whereas eight provinces saw gains in the total value of non-residential permits.

Within the residential sector, multifamily permits doubled to reach $1.9 billion, led especially by Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Single-family dwellings were also up 2.5% from the previous month to $2.1 billion in March. Gains in Ontario and Alberta offset declines in other provinces, said the report.

Total dwellings approved were up 26.7% in March from February to reach 17,141, led mostly by multifamily dwellings which were up 55.5% to 10,469 units. Single-family dwellings declined 1.9% to 6,672 units.

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