A strong October was recorded on the building permit front while mixed signals were given on the market for new homes, according to economic numbers released this week by the city's economic development office.
In all, 45 permits for $11.7 million worth of work were taken out, according to a report from city hall, a 126-per-cent jump over the same month last year.
Three projects accounted for nearly half the total:
- a new elevator terminal connecting the lower parking lot to the terminal at Prince George Airport, worth $2.3 million;
- Lheidli T'enneh's conversion of the old Odeon movie theatre at 355 Vancouver St. into a community hall, worth $1.7 million;
- a new commercial building at 3167 Massey for retail use and a restaurant.
Year-to-date, the total now sits at $107.5 million over 419 permits, down from $120.1 million over 407 permits by the same point last year, but well above $77.8 million over 435 permits by the end of October 2015.
Given 2016 was a record year for private-sector construction, the figure for 2017 so far left city economic development manager Melissa Barcellos encouraged. Take away the $20-million RiverBend seniors housing complex at 1975 Oak St. in Ron Brent Park and "we're pretty much on par."
On the downside, just one new single family home was built in October, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, compared to 24 over the same month last year. The sale price for the home sold last month was suppressed while the average price for October 2016 was $411,555.
The recent rise in interest rates combined with a new stress test for uninsured mortgages to come into effect in January may have played a role, Barcellos speculated.
Countering that, however, is the fact that nine permits for $4.8 million worth of new homes were taken out in October, down slightly from 11 permits for $3.3 million for the same month last year.
"They're still building and it's still an active sector because private sector wouldn't invest money if they didn't see opportunity there," Barcellos said.