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Greater Victoria's March building permits up 65% from last year

March’s total building permit value in capital region was $165.5 million, it was $99 million in March 2021.
Angled, a 15-storey residential highrise, is under construction at the corner of Johnson and Vancouver streets, on land formerly occupied by McCall ­Brothers Funeral Home. The building has been designed witha tilted look, going wider as it rises. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Greater Victoria’s construction sector is surging, with March’s total building permit value in the capital region coming in at $165.5 million, up 65.7 per cent from $99 million the same month in 2021.

February to March also saw an impressive 47.8 per cent increase in values, Statistics Canada said this week in its monthly report on permits.

Rory Kumala, president of the Vancouver Island Construction Association, figures there are two factors driving strong building permits: the continuing demand for housing, largely multi-family units, and rising costs.

Although the number of overall sales was down in the capital region last month compared to the same month in 2021, prices are increasing for all types of housing.

Kumala figures that builders are at a point where they want to do their projects “sooner than later,” before costs rise more.

Cost escalations in materials and fuel are affecting affordability, since they are passed on to consumers. Housing affordability is a critical issue on Vancouver Island, where many cannot afford to buy a home.

At the same time, the construction sector remains short on labour as current skilled trades workers face retirement and several thousand openings are expected the next five to seven years. Not enough young people are entering the trades, Kumala said.

Nationally, the total monthly value of building permits declined by 9.3 per cent in March to $11.7 billion, largely due to the non-residential sector.

Residential permits across the country climbed by 4.7 per cent to $7.9 billion in March, the federal agency said. The value of multi-family permits rose six per cent nationally.