Last week, Statistics Canada released building permit data for May 2021. Ontario’s monthly ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) permit value total was the lowest since December 2020. Institutional permit values were down slightly compared to April, but well above average relative to the last twelve months. Commercial permit values in May amounted to the lowest monthly total since October 2020, while industrial permits in Ontario were at the lowest point since July 2020.
While ICI permit values were down in May, year-to-date ICI building permits in Ontario are up compared to both 2020 and 2019. Overall, Ontario’s ICI permit values for the January-May period increased by two per cent over last year. Industrial permit values increased by 13.2 per cent, while institutional permits increased by 34.4 per cent. Commercial permit values on the other hand were down in the January-May period by 11.3 per cent compared to last year.
Given the disruptions last year in building permit issuance, it is helpful to also compare this year’s data to 2019. Commercial permit values in Ontario in the January-May period this year were higher than the same point in 2019 (+6.8 per cent). While industrial permit values in January-May were up this year compared to last, permitting in this sector is actually down significantly compared to 2019 (-22.3 per cent). Institutional is the sole sector with permit values greater compared to the January-May periods in both 2019 and 2020. Relative to 2019 specifically, Ontario’s Institutional permit values are up by 24.9 per cent.
ICI permit values were up in the January-May period compared to both 2019 and 2020 in four of Ontario’s 16 metro areas (Barrie, Hamilton, Oshawa and Peterborough). In another four metro areas, ICI permit values were down compared to both 2019 and 2020 (Brantford, Guelph, St. Catharines-Niagara and Windsor). ICI permit values are up in January-May compared to 2020 but down compared to 2019 in Belleville, Kingston, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, London and Thunder Bay. Conversely, ICI permit values are down compared to 2020 but up compared to 2019 in the remaining metro areas (Greater Sudbury, Ottawa and Toronto).