Saskatoon sees province's biggest drop in building permits

CBC News July 8, 2013 - Once a red-hot economic engine, Saskatchewan's construction industry is starting to cool.

Statistics Canada shows seasonally-adjusted building permits for the province fell 29.6 per cent between May 2012 and May 2013.

"We are down, but that's because May, a year ago, was a phenomenal month for building permits," said Regina statistician Doug Elliott, who publishes Sask Trends Monitor. "That's coming off three years in a row of double-digit growth."

The Saskatoon area saw the biggest decline, with the value of permits issued there sinking by 44.7 per cent. In Regina, and the surrounding area, building permits fell 4.1 per cent.

Number of multi-family dwellings down

Compared to last year, developers in Saskatchewan will spend $88-million less on the construction of apartment buildings and condominiums. On a percentage basis, the only province with a bigger decrease was British Columbia.

Economists say building permits are an indicator of how busy construction companies will be. Developers must apply for permits months in advance.

"We've had this rapid increase and it's just stopped growing, which of course it had to," Elliott said. "We don't have enough people to maintain that level of construction."

Residential construction permits in the province have dropped by 24.3 per cent. Commercial, government and institutional permits fell 37.8 per cent from what they were in May 2012.

Nationally, the value of building permits rose 4.5 per cent, led by growth in Ontario and Quebec.

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