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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
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May 09, 2017

The value of building permits issued in Nova Scotia decreased by 32.5 per cent in March, following a 7.3 per cent increase in February. Residential permit values decreased 44.2 per cent while non-residential values increased 1.1 per cent.  Although monthly results for building permits are highly volatile, permit values had begun to pick up in early 2017, after remaining generally flat trend in 2016 and declining through much of 2015. 

The trend in Nova Scotia building permit values particularly reflects the trends in the Halifax market. The value of Halifax building permits decreased 33.9 per cent in March 2017 reflecting a decrease in residential permits and a partially offsetting increase in non-residential permits. Residential and non-residential permits in Halifax have been on the rise since mid-2016 following a downward trend through much of 2015 and early 2016.

Outside the Halifax market, building permit values decreased 30.4 per cent in March, with both non-residential and residential permits remaining relatively flat recent months. Residential permit values decreased 34.8 per cent in March and non-residential permit values decreased 22.5 per cent.

Comparing the first three months of 2017 with the same period in 2016, NS building permits were up 23.2 per cent with a increase in residential permit values of 18.1 per cent and an increase in non-residential values of 34.7 per cent.  

Though residential permit values are up in the first three months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, permitted dwelling units were down 56 units, reflecting a decrease in multiple-unit permits outside of Halifax.


Compared with January through March 2016, in January through March 2017 building permit values (unadjusted) were up in all three economic regions, with the largest gains in Halifax, followed by annapolis Valley and Southern Nova Scotia. Permit values fell in Cape Breton and North Shore.  

Nationally, residential building permit values were on an upward trend in 2016 but have fallen in early 2017. Non-residential building permit values have been slowly but steadily trending downward since mid-2014. Compared to January through March of 2016, residential permits were up by 15.8 per cent nationally in the first three months of 2017 while non-residential permits were down by 6.2 per cent.

Comparing the first three months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, among other provinces Manitoba reported the largest gains in residential building permit values followed by Ontario. Newfoundland and Labrador reported the only decline. 

Comparing the first three months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, non-residential building permits increased in five provinces led in percentage terms by Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Ontario saw declines.

Comparing the first three months of 2017 to the same period in 2016, overall building permit values were down in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and British Columbia, while all other provinces observed gains.

Sources: CANSIM 026-0006 and 026-0005
Statistics Canada Cat. No. 64-001-X