Metro Vancouver Housing permits drop
Lots of construction going on in Vancouver, but permits for new projects are on the decline. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)
The latest Statistics Canada data shows a year-to-year 41.2% drop in Metro Vancouver building permits in April and it's the softening demand for housing in the region that's likely to blame. Statistics Canada data released Thursday show new building permits were worth just $374.2 million in April this year compared to $636.8 million a year ago.
Lee Loftus, president of the B.C. Building Trades Council, said the numbers are a head-scratcher since construction typically spikes during warmer months, which means building permit numbers should've been higher in April compared to February and March - only that they aren't.
"Traditionally, when we see a decline in building starts it's due to the economy and I don't think the economy is off that much to generate those numbers," he said. "(Perhaps) people are finding it difficult to live in the Lower Mainland, purchase a home in the Lower Mainland and set up their roots in the Metro Vancouver area."
Loftus said he knows construction workers are finding it increasingly tough to find work over the past few years.
"The labour is available, but there's no work," he said. Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, cautioned that the numbers do fluctuate, but pointed out residential permits have been "below trend" in the past five months.
"On the residential side, construction follows housing sales and prices, which have softened so far this year when we look at the seasonally adjusted data," she said. Famulak said non-residential building permits have held up better, and would likely be boosted when permits for Tsawwassen Mills in Delta and a YVR retail expansion are issued. However, she does not expect a "market-wide investment surge" until 2016.