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February 25, 2021

Q4 Building Permit Report: Residential Rebounds


Residential building permits rebound

Victoria, BC – February 23, 2021 – The total value of building permits issued on Vancouver Island slipped four per cent to $652.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 from $681.6 million the third quarter. Residential building permits jumped 26 per cent over the third quarter to $538.2 million but were four per cent lower compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Non-residential permits dropped 55 per cent in the quarter to $114.1 million from $254.5 million following a large surge in commercial permits in the third quarter. Commercial permits plunged 73 per cent to $56.3 million while institutional-government permits posted a 32 per cent increase to $50.3 million to partially offset that drop. 

“Overall, building permit activity in Vancouver Island communities continues at a strong level, despite the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rory Kulmala, CEO of the Vancouver Island Construction Association.

Notable performances during the fourth quarter of 2020 included a 60 per cent jump in residential permits issued in the Capital Regional District (RD) over the third quarter, a 20 per cent increase in total permits in the Strathcona RD, and a 14 per cent rise in the Alberni-Clayoquot RD.

The Nanaimo investment spending on non-residential building construction in the Victoria metropolitan area rose for the fourth consecutive month ending in November to $37.2 million as a result of a rebound in commercial and public permits that occurred in the third quarter of 2020.

Victoria’s residential building construction investment spending increased 8.1 per cent ending in November to $157 million on the strength of multi-unit dwellings, particularly apartments which increased 22.3 per cent to $88.08 million.

Construction industry employment in Vancouver Island-Coast region dropped 14.4 per cent during the fourth quarter in Vancouver Island (excluding Victoria) and 1.4 per cent in the Victoria metro area. This result was not consistent with other indicators of construction activity at that time.  

“While total building permits issued in 2020 came in one per cent below 2019’s level, the 2021 outlook is somewhat uncertain as a result of the pandemic,” said Kulmala.

“Overall, I expect total building permits issued in 2021 will increase about five per cent over 2020, led by residential construction activity as demand for housing increases due to low interest rates, affordable home prices and provincial in-migration.

Click here to view full report.

Arrange an interview with VICA CEO Rory Kulmala:

Owen O’Rourke, Communications Specialist

Vancouver Island Construction Association

250.800.1722 |