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Construction slowed in April

OTTAWA, Ont. -- April was a month that provided both good and bad news for truckers making their living in the cons...

OTTAWA, Ont. — April was a month that provided both good and bad news for truckers making their living in the construction industry.

Construction intentions for new housing plunged to a 10-month low but permits for non-residential projects rebounded sharply, which brought the total value of building permits issued across the country up marginally in April, according to figures just released by Statistics Canada.

Municipalities issued $3.7 billion in building permits in April, an increase of only 0.5%. Housing permits fell 6.8% to $2.3 billion, while intentions in the non-residential sector increased 14.8% to $1.4 billion, fuelled by permits for institutional projects.

Despite the slight overall increase in April, the cumulative value of permits issued in the first four months of the year reached a record high, thanks to torrid activity in January. From January to April, municipalities issued nearly $15.6 billion in permits, up 4.6% from the same period of 2002.

The year-to-date value for housing permits also hit a record high, $9.8 billion, a 2.1% increase. The year-to-date level for non-residential permits rose 9.1% to $5.7 billion, the second best start in a decade for this four-month period.

Provincially, the biggest gains were in Manitoba, where the value of permits far more than doubled (+163%) from March to $219 million, the hottest month in over a decade. This was the result of two major hospital projects.

Permits in Saskatchewan surged 134% to $90 million.

In contrast, the value of permits issued in Ontario declined 9.4% to under $1.5 billion, an 18-month low.

British Columbia gave up some of the gains of last month, posting a 13.6% decline to $480 million.

The census metropolitan areas recording the greatest gains were Montral (+29.0% to $443 million), followed by Winnipeg and Regina. The biggest declines were in Toronto (-11.9% to $611 million), Vancouver and Qubec.

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