|B.C., Alberta lead building boom|
|But rest of Canada seeing slower economic growth|
|Derrick Penner and Eric Beauchesne|
B.C. builders took out a record $11.5 billion worth of permits in 2006, which, along with xml:namespace prefix =" st1" ns =" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"" />
However, Statistics Canada said that if B.C. and
The Statistics Canada report adds to evidence that, nationally speaking, the economy is slowing and the building boom has passed its peak. However, building plans remained at relatively high levels, it noted.
And while residential building hit a record $41 billion in 2006 -- the first time homebuilding topped $40 billion -- that was based on pricier products since the number of permits shrank for the second consecutive year.
In B.C., the picture is different. While Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Monday that slower-than-expected economic growth will slow housing starts, the non-residential building boom is expected to go on.
"That's to be expected ... and nothing to be too concerned about given that we've had three or four years of a pretty torrid [residential construction] pace," Keith Sashaw, CEO of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association said.
And it gives the non-residential contractors a bit of "breathing room [on] the skilled labour issues," allowing carpenters, electricians and other tradespeople to switch gears from residential to institutional, industrial and commercial construction.
B.C. saw non-residential permits shoot up 22 per cent to $3.9 billion last year compared to 2005. Sashaw said that with demand for commercial an industrial buildings still rising, that trend won't change soon.
"I expect this [pace] to continue through 2007 and well into 2008 if not later," Sashaw said. "Once you get a couple of years out, the crystal ball gets really hazy, but some of the figures are encouraging."
In the Lower Mainland, the value of non-residential building-permits climbed almost 37 per cent to $2.7 billion in 2006. Even if construction-cost increases of about 12 per cent are stripped out, it's still a healthy gain, he said.
All municipalities in Atlantic Canada and western Canada, as well as Sherbrooke, Que., Kingston, Ont. and London, Ont., set record highs in 2006. Except for
New housing prices toward year-end were up more than 11 per cent from a year earlier, led by a near 50 per cent jump in
"Factors contributing to the strong housing market included a dynamic economy in western
However, in December the value of residential permits fell for the third time in four months, while non-residential permits joined in the slide following four straight monthly increases.
Still, the total value of permits issued in December was 3.9 per cent higher than the average monthly level in 2006.
WEST FUELS RISE
Hot building sectors in B.C. and
B.C. $11.5 billion +13 %
Residential $7.6 billion +9%
Non-residential $3.9 billion +22%