Canadian March Building Permits Rise on Multiple-Unit Housing

Canadian building permits rose in March on gains in multiple-unit housing in Vancouver and Toronto and a rebound for institutional buildings in Alberta.

The value of municipal permits rose 11.6 percent to C$6.87 billion ($5.68 billion), following two months of declines, Statistics Canada said Thursday in Ottawa. Economists forecast a 2 percent increase according to the median of nine responses in a Bloomberg survey.

Multiple-unit housing rose 19.6 percent to C$2.15 billion, capping a 35.4 percent rise over the last 12 months. Vancouver and Toronto, cities that have drawn concern about overbuilding, reported increases in the intentions for multiple-unit construction.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says the economy needs a shift from debt-fueled consumer spending to exports and private business investment. Demand for homes is being supported by the lowest mortgage rates in decades. The average five-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.74 percent at the end of March, according to central bank data.

Institutional buildings such as nursing homes and schools jumped 73.9 percent to C$661 million in March, recovering part of a decline in the previous two months.

Permits for industrial buildings rose by 5.5 percent to C$428 million, and for commercial projects such as offices they gained 11.4 percent to C$1.36 billion.

The total for overall non-residential construction, which also includes the institutional category, rose 22.1 percent to C$2.45 billion.

From 12 months earlier, non-residential permits rose 3.9 percent, less than the 18.8 percent gain for housing. Overall building permits were up 13 percent from March 2014, Statistics Canada said today.

Single-family housing was the lone category showing a monthly decline in March, falling by 3.4 percent to C$2.27 billion. Total residential permits rose 6.6 percent to C$4.42 billion.