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Houses under construction in Calgary are seen in this file photo. (Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail)
Houses under construction in Calgary are seen in this file photo. (Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail)

Building permits fall in March, housing steady Add to ...

The value of building permits issued in Canada unexpectedly fell in March but plans for housing construction inched higher after a steep fall in February, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday.

Builders took out $6.0-billion ($5.5-billion) worth of permits in the month, down 3 per cent from February and defying market forecasts for a 4.3 per cent increase. Statscan revised the February figures to show a 11.3 per cent decline in permits versus 11.6 per cent.

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The value of residential permits climbed 1 per cent but remained considerably lower than the record-high in January and in most of 2013 because of a 20.8 per cent slide in February. Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 7.9 per cent while those for single-family homes fell 3.6 per cent.

The strength in housing was not enough to offset a 8.8 per cent decrease in permits for non-residential projects. The value of permits for institutional and industrial buildings fell while it rose for the commercial component.

On a year-on-year basis, the total value of permits was down 5.5 per cent, with the residential component up 1.0 per cent and the non-residential component down 14.2 per cent.

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