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Vancouver Island construction activity climbs out of second quarter pandemic low

DCN-JOC News Services
Vancouver Island construction activity climbs out of second quarter pandemic low

VICTORIA — An industry slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to falling building permit values on Vancouver Island in the second quarter, but the industry appears to be swinging back.

The dollar value of building permits fell by 14 per cent to $506.6 million in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter but issued permits began to increase each month through to June.

Residential permits held at $434 million in the first two quarters of 2020 though the number of dwelling units declined 21 per cent from the first quarter, and non-residential permits dropped overall by 54 per cent led by a 72 per cent drop in institutional government permits along with a 37 per cent decline in commercial permits and a 28 per cent drop in industrial permits.

“Despite the significant impacts of COVID-19 on our economy, the construction sector has remained active and has demonstrated its resiliency in these uncertain times. We will continue to be a key element towards our economic recovery,” Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) president Rory Kumala said in a statement.

“On the positive side, permits did increase during the quarter and Victoria’s residential building construction investment spending surged in May 2020 to $163.49 million following a pandemic-related contraction in April.”

Investment spending on non-residential building construction in the metropolitan Victoria area decreased by nearly five per cent in May 2020 from the previous month and construction industry employment declined across Vancouver Island with the most significant decreases outside the Victoria metro area.

Investment in commercial and industrial buildings look to remain low until there is more clarity on future demand, a VICA release said.

“We expect total building permits could post a small gain in 2020 and a larger one in 2021. However, if a second wave occurs or pandemic restrictions extend well into next year, large surges in construction activity will likely remain low this year and possibly next year,” Kumala cautioned.

The entire report is available online.

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