Capital region building permits up

Builders have signalled plans to heat up the pace of construction in the capital region by taking out more than $93 million worth of permits in June.

The figure represents a 30 per cent increase from June 2019, before COVID-19 arrived.

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Permits are largely for Greater Victoria residential projects, which represented the majority — at $82 million — of the total permit value last month, up from $65.9 million in residential permits for the same month last year, according to Statistics Canada’s monthly permit report released Friday.

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association, said single-family construction values rose significantly in June to $22 million, from $14 million in the same month last year.

Multi-family developments are continuing to deliver a higher number of new homes to the region, and a greater proportion of residential permits, as rental buildings and condominiums go up.

The first half of this year has seen 1,567 new homes started compared with 1,614 started through the first six months of last year, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing.

Langford and Colwood continue to power ahead with residential construction, reflecting more than 50 per cent of new homes going up locally, Edge said. “The bottom line is that the West Shore is carrying the region to a large degree.”

For example, GableCraft Homes of Vancouver won permission from Colwood council last month to develop part of its Royal Bay property, Latoria South. The site will feature a mix of uses, including a commercial centre and parks, and will have room for up to 2,100 new homes.

In general, members of builders’ association are reasonably busy, Edge said, praising B.C.’s decision to allow construction to continue as an essential service during the pandemic.

Nationally, the value of building permits rose to $8.1 billion in June, up by 6.2 per cent from May.

But despite easing of pandemic-related restrictions elsewhere in Canada, the national value of permits in the second quarter was down 12.8 per cent from the first quarter of this year.

B.C., however, has posted its third largest value on record for residential permits in June, a rise of 20.4 per cent to $1.3 billion due to large projects such as the $687-million Oakridge Centre redevelopment in Vancouver.

Greater Victoria’s permit values climbed by 24 per cent for the first six months of this year to $483 million for all types of construction, compared with the same months in 2019.

The second quarter of this year saw the capital region’s permit values rise by 4.7 per cent against the same months last year.

The increase came even as builders face higher costs due to the virus, a labour shortage and rising material prices, such as lumber, Edge said.

Significant projects continuing in the capital region include the region’s $775-million wastewater treatment centre, the $96-million Admirals Road-McKenzie intersection, and a $232-million project at the University of Victoria to build 800 new beds for student housing, a new dining room and other facilities, plus condominium construction in Victoria, in Harris Green and along Fort Street.

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