Northern Economist 2.0

Showing posts with label building permits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label building permits. Show all posts

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

North's CMAs Sluggish When it Comes to Building Permits

The June 2017 building permit numbers from Statistics Canada are out today and they show that the total value of building permits rose in six provinces in June, led by Quebec and Manitoba. Meanwhile, permits were up in 14 of 36 census metropolitan areas (CMAs), led by Toronto, MontrĂ©al and Winnipeg with Hamilton reporting the largest decline in June (-60.0%).

The year to year results (June 2016 to June 2017) are shown in the accompanying figure for Canada's CMAs.  All CMAs grew 24.3 percent. They range from a high of 172 percent for Halifax to a low of -81 percent for Moncton.  As for Thunder Bay and Sudbury, they both show a negative performance with -2.7 percent for Thunder Bay and -4 percent for Greater Sudbury.




This building permit report comes in the wake of Conference Board Reports showing that these two cities have sluggish economies. However, with respect to building permits in Ontario they are not doing as badly as Hamilton, Windsor, Peterborough or St. Catharines.  Another intriguing result is the Ottawa area where Ottawa/Gatineau shows annual growth of 13.7 percent but the Gatineau part is at -12.7 percent and the Ottawa part grew at 18.9 percent.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Evaluating Northern Ontario's Growth Plan-Part III: Investment Spending


This is the third in a series of posts in which I am presenting evidence evaluating the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, which was released on March 4, 2011.  The 25-year plan was to guide provincial decision-making and investment in northern Ontario with the aim of strengthening the regional economy. The goal was strengthening the economy of the North by:
  • Diversifying the region's traditional resource-based industries
  • Stimulating new investment and entrepreneurship
  • Nurturing new and emerging sectors with high growth potential.
While the provincial government did commit itself to the development of performance measures for ministry specific initiatives that supported the implementation of the plan, I will be using a broader set of indicators of overall economic performance that are supported by the availability of readily accessible public data.  My first post was an overview of the series while my second post looked at employment. In this third post, I will be looking at new investment spending as measured by building permits.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Investment Activity and Trends in Northern Ontario: Part Three – Thunder Bay and Sudbury


In this third installment on investment activity in Northern Ontario as illustrated by building permit data, I am going to focus on the roles of Thunder Bay and Sudbury.  These are the two largest urban centres in Northern Ontario with CMA populations of 122,000 and 158,000 respectively accounting for about 38 percent of Northern Ontario’s population of 745,000.  As the largest urban nodes, one would expect them to be major drivers of economic activity and new investment and the data suggests that they are indeed major economic contributors but are not exactly punching much above their population weight.

Figure 1 shows the total nominal value of building permits (and the linear trends) issued in Thunder Bay and Greater Sudbury over a 20-year period and reveal that Thunder Bay has stayed relatively flat over this period whereas Sudbury enjoyed a pronounced boom from 2003 to 2009 but has since cooled off somewhat.  More interesting is Figure 2, which plots Sudbury’s share of Northeastern Ontario’s permits, Thunder Bay’s share of the Northwest’s permits and then their combined share of all of Northern Ontario.  On average, over the period 1989-2011, Greater Sudbury has accounted for about 34 percent of all building permit values in the Northeast and Thunder Bay for about 60 percent of the values in the Northwest.  Both of these are in line with their respective population shares with Thunder Bay somewhat more dominant in its region and together they account for an average of about 41 percent of Northern Ontario’s building permit activity.  This share has been trending down slightly over the period 1989-2011 generally as a result of weaker performance by Thunder Bay given that the trend for Sudbury has been pretty constant.

While Thunder Bay and Sudbury are important economic drivers for the region, these results suggest that they are not overly dominant and that new investment activity is dispersed throughout Northern Ontario.  The other towns and cities of the North – particularly Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and North Bay – are also important drivers.  Thunder Bay and Sudbury’s share of new investment activity in Northern Ontario is approximately the same as their combined population share of the region.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Investment Activity and Trends in Northern Ontario: Part Two


In the first installment of this series on investment activity in Northern Ontario as measured by building permit data, we saw that building permit values in the north have ebbed and flowed with an overall flat performance over a 35-year period.  In this installment, I want to compare Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario in two ways: first, comparing their long-term trends in the real value of permits and second, comparing the composition of building permits across the categories on residential, industrial, commercial and institutional/governmental.
Figure 1 plots the real total value of building permits and while the ebb and flow of activity is there, the long term trends as depicted by the linear trend are markedly different across the two regions.  The Northeast exhibits a rising trend which albeit weak is infinitely preferable to the long term decline exhibited by the Northwest trend line.  Figures 2 and 3 plot the composition of the permits in 1976 and in 2011.  In 1976, the Northwest has a larger share of industrial permit activity compared to the Northeast while both had comparable shares of residential activity.  Compared to 1976, 2011 shows a decline in the residential shares of permit activity in both regions as well as an increase in the share of institutional and governmental permits.  In 1976, the public sector accounted for 8 and 5 percent of investment activity respectively in Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario.  By 2011, those shares had risen to 21 and 12 percent respectively.  It would appear the Northeast has been able to secure more public sector investment than the Northwest.
The industrial share has declined in both regions but it is surprisingly still quite high in the Northwest - perhaps an indicator of the recent surge of activity in the Ring of Fire.  The residential share has declined in both and indeed a big driver of the flat performance overall in new investment over 35 years has been the weak residential sector.  Both regions show an overall downward trend in the real value of their residential permits over the 1976-2011 period though the northeast has shown some recovery since 2000.

Figure 1

Figure 2



Figure 3