More building permits given out South of the Fraser

Economic confidence > A comparison of building permits issued throughout the GVRD from 1998-2011


It’s not really a race, and it’s hard to tell what it really means, but more building permits are given out South of the Fraser River than in Vancouver, North of the Fraser River, Richmond or the North Shore.

Building permits are used by economists as a measurement of confidence in the economy. The thinking is people will only plan to build if they can afford it or will make money.

B.C. Stats has released several data tables for building permits issued. Taking Total Building Permits 1998-2011 (download the CSV file here) I combined the various communities in Metro Vancouver into sub-regions, depending on what side of the river or inlet they were on. I also separated out the City of Vancouver. It’s important (probably) to remember that these are the number of permits, not their value, the number of people planned to be employed or even how much coffee they drink.

As Frances Bula has pointed out in a blog article after the release of 2011 Census data showing how fast various populations were growing, the available space and maturity of a community will affect numbers as well.

So what can be learned from this? The initial enthusiasm that Greater Surrey is growing faster than stodgy Vancouver has to be tempered by a few facts: there’s more room to construct things out here and the land is a bit cheaper (for now). But, that said, if you’re a supplier for the building trades you may want to consider a presence on the right side of the river.


Born and raised in Surrey, Don Schuetze has returned to the land of his youth after about a quarter of a century elsewhere. But do you ever really leave? Don works for a media company in Vancouver as a production hack, schlepping together print and online products. Reach him through his half-done site which is all about, wait for it… Surrey.

One comment

  1. Condos and apartments would be cheaper per square foot compared to the less efficient uses of the land if it became more profitable for builders to build upward rather than outward, which would also eliminate suburbs, through elimination of height and minimum setback restrictions, requiring infill buildings to incorporate retail and office space and imposing maximum automobile parking of 0, decreasing development charges to 0 for infill and increased for low-density land use, and basing property taxes on the value of land alone rather than land and building.

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