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INDUSTRY PULSE: Construction market dips after record month

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Truckers involved in the construction sector experienced a dip in their business in September as th...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Truckers involved in the construction sector experienced a dip in their business in September as the value of building permits retreated from the record high a month earlier, despite an on-going gain in the value of construction intentions in the housing sector.

Contractors took out $5.1 billion in permits in September, down 5.3% from August, Statistics Canada reported today. A plunge in non-residential intentions far offset the fifth monthly gain in the housing sector during the last six months.

The value of non-residential permits totalled $1.9 billion, down 17.1% from the record $2.3 billion reached in August. A strong decline in institutional permits was behind the drop. Even so, the value of non-residential construction intentions remained 20.2% above the average monthly level last year.

In the housing sector, municipalities issued $3.3 billion in permits, up 3.2% from August, thanks to gains in both the single- and multi-family components.

On a year-to-date basis, the total value of building permits reached $45.2 billion between January and September, up 10.7% from the first nine months of 2004.

In the non-residential sector, permits have been on an upward trend since the beginning of 2004. So far this year, contractors have taken out $16.8 billion in industrial, institutional and commercial permits, up a resounding 24.2% from the same period last year, the result of massive investment projects in several provinces.

The value of proposed non-residential projects has already surpassed last year’s annual total in five provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

In the residential sector, the cumulative value of permits is up 4.1% so far this year to $28.4 billion. However, this gain was the result of the increase in the price of new dwellings. The number of new units approved since the beginning of the year has declined 3.3% to 175,560, compared with the first nine month of 2004.

Regionally, year-to-date gains (in dollars) in building permits in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver have largely surpassed increases in all other census metropolitan areas. In Calgary and Edmonton, the strength came from both housing and non-residential permits. In Vancouver, the non-residential sector solely fuelled the advance.

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