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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

December 09, 2019

The monthly value of building permits (seasonally adjusted) issued in Nova Scotia increased 5.3 per cent in October, following a (revised) decrease of 30.3 per cent in September. Nova Scotia's residential permits increased 5.4 per cent while non-residential building increased 4.9 per cent. Monthly results for building permits are highly volatile.

The six-month moving average of residential permits trended modestly upwards through 2017 and then declined in early 2018. Afterwards, residential permits resumed an upward trend before flattening out over the first ten months of 2019. The six-month moving average for non-residential permit values remained relatively flat from mid-2017 to late 2018. Since early 2019, non-residential permits have trended upward.

The trend in Nova Scotia building permit values largely reflects the trends in the Halifax market. The value of Halifax building permits rose 2.9 per cent in October, reflecting a 9.4 per cent increase in residential permit values and a 16.7 per cent decline in non-residential permit values. 

The six-month moving average for residential permits in Halifax has been rising since mid-2016 except for a decline in the fall of 2017 and early 2018. Since then, Halifax residential permits trended upward before flattening out over the first ten months of 2019. Non-residential permits in Halifax trended down starting in June 2017, though they have trended upward since the spring of 2019.

Outside the Halifax market, building permit values rose 9.6 per cent in October 2019, reflecting a decline in residential permits (-2.7 per cent) and a rise in non-residential permits (+32.0 per cent).  Non-residential permits trended upward outside of Halifax from mid-2017 to mid-2018, but have remained relatively flat since then. Residential permits have trended upward at a modest pace since mid-2017.

In total for January-October 2019, the value of Nova Scotia building permits was up 19.2 per cent compared to the first ten months of 2018. Residential permits are 29.8 per cent higher, and non-residential permits are down 1.3 per cent, year-to-date. The decline in non-residential building permits reflects declines in industrial (-29.5 per cent) and institutional/government (-17.2 per cent) permit values. Commercial permit values were up 11.0 per cent, year-to-date.

Halifax building permits were up 26.9 per cent in the first ten months of 2019 on strong gains in the residential sector (+44.4 per cent), while building permits outside of Halifax were up 8.7 per cent.

Building permits in Nova Scotia's five economic regions totaled $1.59 billion (unadjusted) in the first ten months of 2019.  The largest contributor was the Halifax region, with a combined residential and non-residential permit value of $998.1 million. Year-to-date, the total value of residential and non-residential permits was up in all regions except Southern Nova Scotia and North Shore.

In the first ten months of 2019, the number of residential dwelling-units created (seasonally adjusted) in Nova Scotia was up by 1,171 units compared to Jan-Oct 2018.  The number of single and multiple units created was up for both Halifax and Nova Scotia outside of Halifax.

Nationally, residential building permit values (seasonally adjusted) were on an upward trend in 2016 but have levelled off since early 2017. National residential building permits were down 3.2 per cent in October. Non-residential building permit values rose through 2017 and peaked toward the end of the year, remaining relatively flat through 2018.  Since the end of 2018, non-residential permits have risen modestly.  National non-residential permit values were up 1.1 per cent in October.

Comparing the first ten months of 2019 with the same period in 2018, national residential building permit values were down 1.2 per cent, with increases in five provinces. Prince Edward Island (+43.3 per cent) showed the largest gain in residential permits in percentage terms, followed by Nova Scotia (+29.8 per cent). Newfoundland and Labrador (-25.6 per cent) showed the largest decline, year-to-date, followed by Saskatchewan (-14.1 per cent).

National non-residential permits are up 8.1 per cent through the first ten months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.  Manitoba had the largest gains in non-residential building permits (+29.5 per cent) followed by British Columbia (+29.3 per cent). Newfoundland and Labrador (-43.2 per cent) reported the largest decline, followed by Alberta (-18.5 per cent).

Year-to-date, the national value of total (residential and non-residential) building permits was up 2.2 per cent compared to Jan-Oct 2018.  Total building permit values were up in seven provinces in the first ten months of 2019, led by Prince Edward Island (+32.0 per cent) and Nova Scotia (+19.2 per cent). Newfoundland and Labrador reported the largest decline over this period (-36.8 per cent), followed by Alberta (-15.0 per cent).

Source: Statistics Canada.  Table  34-10-0066-01   Building permits, by type of structure and type of work (x 1,000)

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