Vancouver building permit values climb to record high in 2015

Permit values rose to $3.2 billion in 2014, a 14% increase compared to 2014

A rendering of Vancouver House, one of the projects the City of Vancouver says contributed to a 14% boost in building permit value in 2015

2015 was another very active year for building intentions in Vancouver, building permit statistics released by the City of Vancouver show.

Building permit values rose to $3.2 billion in 2015, a 14% increase from 2014 when values totaled $2.8 billion and a record for the city. 2014 was the first year values rose above the 2007 figure of $2.5 billion, a sign of recovery from the effect of the 2008 financial crisis and recession that followed when permits dropped to $1.6 billion in 2008 and $1.3 billion in 2009.

Building permit values have been increasing across British Columbia, with urban areas showing the most strength. Building permit dollar volume for the province grew 30% in 2015. Permits were up 35% in Kelowna, 20% in the Lower Mainland and 16% in Victoria.

“The story is really a tale of strong housing demand,” said Central 1 Credit Union economist Bryan Yu in a January 8 commentary. “Residential permit volume, which includes new construction and renovations/upgrades was up 31% year-over-year in November, propelling a year-to-date gain of 25%.”

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However, commercial and industrial building intentions have been weaker, Yu said. Year-to-date permit volume was flat owing to a 27% decline in public sector spending.

“Non-residential investment is being dampened by weakness in energy markets, mining, and broad uncertainty in the national and global economy, which will likely persist into mid-to-late 2016.”

According to a City of Vancouver press release, major developments that contributed to the 2015 increase include Vancouver House, an upscale condo building near the north end of the Granville Bridge; a building Emily Carr University of Art and Design is constructing on their new False Creek Flats campus; Strathcona Village, a 350-unit condo building on East Hastings Street in Strathcona; and Wall Centre Central Park, a 29-storey tower in East Vancouver’s Collingwood neighbourhood.

Following last week's property assessments release, real estate industry insiders warned 2016 will be another year of intense sales activity and price increases for renters, prospective home buyers and small businesses as interest in redeveloping properties in Vancouver remains heated.