The value of building permits throughout the Capital Regional District slumped 15 per cent between September and October.
The decline is even sharper, at 38 per cent, when comparing October 2011 to the same month last year, according to new figures by Statistics Canada,
A dip in large projects after a busy summer is mostly to blame, according to the Vancouver Island Construction Association. Municipal statistics from Victoria and Saanich, however, provide a more nuanced picture of the overall decline.
In Victoria, the raw number of building permits issued has actually increased every year since 2007.
So far this year, the number of permits issued reached 3,805 in the city, up from 3,383 five year ago. The value of building permits, however, has dropped $25 million since last year, and nearly $200 million since the pre-recession era of 2007.
A look at the types of permits approved helps to explain the opposing trend lines.
On the one hand, commercial and multi-family building has shrunk, while at the same time, interior home renovations are booming.
Year to date, interior building permits issued jumped from 165 last year to 246 this year, with a corresponding jump in value from $9 million to $20 million.
Home renovator Steve Burgess attributes the trend to the world economy.
“I think the big one for a lot of people is job security … People are not doing the big additions, but yeah, they’ll go ahead with the kitchen or bathroom reno – the small stuff.”
Burgess’ own business, Toolbox Renovations, has increased lately and he speculates its due partly to improvements to his website and partly due to wider economic trends.
In Saanich, the data tells a different story.
True comparison between the two municipalities is difficult due to different permit-reporting procedures, but one clear trend emerges.
While residential building permits are on the decline in Victoria, the opposite is true for Saanich,
In fact, the number of residential building permits issued in 2011 far surpasses any year since 2007. To date, 295 units have been approved in Saanich this year, mostly for apartment-style housing.
At a glance:
Residential building permits, including single and multi-unit housing:
2011: 219 (excludes Dec.)
2011: 295 (excludes Dec.)