Construction still strong in Canada

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Construction intentions remained strong in February, Statistics Canada reports, a good sign for construction fleets.

The intentions remained strong despite declines in the value of building permits for the residential and non-residential sectors. Municipalities issued a total of $3.9 billion in building permits, down 9.8% from the record high in January.

Builders took out permits worth $2.4 billion for housing in February, down 14.2% from January. But again, the decline came on the heels of a record high in January, and February’s total remained just 1.4% short of the average monthly level in 2002, which was an exceptional year.

In the non-residential sector, construction intentions fell 1.9% to $1.5 billion. However, they were still 7.0% higher than the average monthly level in 2002. A sharp drop in commercial permits more than offset gains in the institutional and industrial components.

So far this year, municipalities have issued a total of $8.2 billion in building permits, up 10.4% from the same period of 2002. It was the best showing ever for the first two months of any year, as both residential and non-residential permits were well above last year’s cumulative levels. In the coming months, as these intentions materialize, the construction sector will remain healthy.

Regionally, the census metropolitan areas of Toronto and Calgary started 2003 strongly. In both areas, growth came largely from non-residential construction intentions.

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