Residential leads construction – even in “booming” north

More than twice as much money is being spent on building homes in British Columbia than on all industrial, commercial and government projects combined and the trend is seen even in areas touted as the province’s resource boomtowns. 

More than twice as much money is being spent on building homes in British Columbia than on all industrial, commercial and government projects combined and the trend is seen even in areas touted as the province’s resource boomtowns.

In Kitimat, for instance, which the provincial government has pegged as the centre for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, total industrial building permits through the first seven months of 2014 were $613,000, compared to $26 million in residential construction. Industrial building in the northwest city were down 90% from 2013, while home building permits nearly doubled.

In Northeast B.C. site of the largest LNG gas exploration and extraction projects in the province, total residential building permits this year are expected to total $170 million, more that twice that of non-residential permits, at $76 million, which are down 35% from a year earlier.

The outlook for the next two years sees the trend continuing. Central 1 Credit Union forecasts that home building in the Northeast will be worth at least 25% more – at more than $100 million annually – than all other construction combined through to the end of 2017.

Central 1 chief economist Bryan Yu notes that building permit values in such resource areas can fluctuate widely, as a single large industrial project can push the non-residential numbers higher. Still, in the past three years, non-residential permits have been higher than residential only once, in 2011.

The trend of a residential dominating construction is seen across the province and is especially pronounced in the Lower Mainland.

In the first seven months of this year, Metro Vancouver residential permits reached $2.9 billion, while total non-residential construction was $1.2 billion. Across the province, home building permit values are currently outstripping non-residential permits by a ratio of four to one, according to Statistics Canada.