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INDUSTRY PULSE: Construction business booming this summer

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Business should be brisk this summer for fleets and owner/operators involved in construction.

OTTAWA, Ont. — Business should be brisk this summer for fleets and owner/operators involved in construction.

The value of building permits issued by municipalities surged a blistering 27.1% in June to $5.3 billion, according to a Statistics Canada report released this morning, forging a new monthly record and breaching the $5 billion threshold for the first time. After an 8.2% decline in May, a record value in the residential sector combined with a near record in the non-residential sector propelled permits well above the previous record of $4.6 billion set in July 2003.

Builders took out a record $3.4 billion in housing permits in June, up 24.2% from the previous month. A renewed flurry of demand for multi-family dwelling permits led the residential sector to post a new record and break the $3 billion mark for the second time. However, the Toronto market continues to sag.

Municipalities issued permits for $1.9 billion in non-residential building projects in June, up 32.6% from May and the highest level since August 1989. Breaking through the $1 billion level for only the second time, the commercial component propelled the expansion.

With half of the year accounted for, municipalities have issued $27.1 billion in building permits, up 9.4% from the same period in 2003, a banner year. The value of housing permits issued in the first half of 2004 topped $18.0 billion, a 19.5% gain from the same period last year. Meanwhile, the non-residential sector has lagged last year’s record setting pace, with just over $9.0 billion in permits, a 6.5% decline from 2003.

During the first half of 2004, municipalities issued permits for 120,883 residential unitsJune alone contributed nearly 23,000 of these, the most brisk monthly pace since March 1987. Of the cumulative total units, just under half were accounted for by multi-family units, a marked gain from the more traditional third of the market they have represented.

Regionally, Vancouver and Montral have shown the greatest cumulative gains thus far in 2004. While both areas saw the growth stemming from demand for dwellings, in Vancouver it was the multi-family segment that dominated, while in Montral there was an even split with single-family homes. Declines in industrial and institutional project values overwhelmed moderate gains in the other segments to lead Toronto and Hamilton to post the greatest cumulative retreats.

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