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INDUSTRY PULSE: Construction contracts take a breather after record 2005

TORONTO, Ont. -- The value of building permits cooled off in January from record levels set at the close of last ye...

TORONTO, Ont. — The value of building permits cooled off in January from record levels set at the close of last year. Nevertheless, the news remains positive for truckers involved in construction. January’s level was equal to the average monthly value in 2005, which was a record year for permits.

Municipalities issued $5.1 billion in permits in January, down 19.3% from the record high $6.3 billion set in December. Both the residential and non-residential sectors posted declines, according to Statistics Canada records released this morning.

In the residential sector, contractors took out $3.5 billion in permits, down 21.4%. Despite January’s decrease, the residential sector continued its upward trend.

The retreat in January was mainly the result of a marked decline in the multi-family component in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto. Multi-family intentions in Toronto soared to a record high in December, when several permits related to applications received earlier had to be issued before the end of 2005 to avoid higher development charges.

Excluding the Toronto CMA figures, the value of residential permits declined by only 5.2%.

In the non-residential sector, intentions fell 14.3% to $1.6 billion, the lowest level since January 2005. This decline was due to marked decreases in all three components (industrial, commercial and institutional) and it lengthened a downward trend that started last July.

Locally, 22 of the 28 CMAs registered a faster start compared with January 2005. Calgary and Windsor had the strongest starts, the result of strength in both the residential and non-residential sectors.

“Low mortgage rates are still having a positive impact on the housing sector, as is the favourable job situation,” Statistics Canada noted in its Daily Bulletin.

However, according to Statistics Canada’s latest release on intentions for public and private investment, spending in the housing sector is expected to remain flat this year, after hitting a record high in 2005.

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