BY RICHARD GILBERT - Alberta and Saskatchewan recorded large gains in investment in non-residential building construction in the first quarter of this year, while British Columbia followed the national trend with an overall decline.
“The growth in this area of the construction sector is vital to our economy,” said Saskatchewan’s Economy Minister Bill Boyd.
“Non-residential construction typically refers to larger projects of an industrial, commercial or institutional nature. We are fortunate to have many of those projects taking place in communities across the province. Those projects attract skilled workers to the province, and create employment and business opportunities to support economic growth.”
Statistics Canada recently reported that total non-residential construction in Saskatchewan increased by 4.9 per cent to $466.1 million in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the last quarter of 2013.
This is the highest figure on record for this economic indicator in the first quarter since reporting began in 1997.
The increase in non-residential investment in Saskatchewan was driven by commercial construction, which jumped by 9.6 per cent to $249 million compared to the previous quarter.
Investment in industrial construction increased 6.9 per cent to $69 million in the first quarter, which was mainly the result of higher spending on utility buildings.
The institutional construction sector experienced a decline in investment (-3.0 per cent) in the first quarter to $148 million.
In Alberta, total non-residential construction increased by 1.1 per cent to $2.657 billion in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the last quarter of 2013.
This growth was driven by commercial investment, which was up 3.0 per cent to about $1.9 billion.
The gain in commercial construction was mostly a result of higher spending on the construction of office buildings, retail and wholesale outlets and hotels.
Investment in industrial construction fell by 4.9 per cent to $395 million, which was largely as a result of lower spending on maintenance buildings.
The institutional sector fell by 1.1 per cent to $403 million.
One of the largest decreases in non-residential building construction investment happened in B.C., which fell by 2.7 per cent to $1, 361 in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the past quarter of 2013.
The decline was spread across all construction sectors, including industrial (-9.2 per cent to $158 million), commercial (-2.3 per cent to $836 million) and institutional (-0.6 per cent to $367 million).
At the national level, non-residential building construction dropped 0.6 per cent to $12.9 billion in the first quarter this year.
This decline followed two consecutive quarterly gains and was largely attributable to lower spending in the construction of industrial and institutional buildings.