A wave of non-residential projects has elevated the value of building permits in March, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The national statistical agency said the monthly value of building permits rose by 11.3% in March to $11.8 billion.

The rise was powered by non-residential permits, whose value jumped by 32.0% to a record-high of $5.2 billion.

StatsCan reported that there were 10 individual non-residential projects valued at over $100 million each in the month, led by a $570 million facility for General Motors and POSCO Chemical to be located in Bécancour, Québec.

“This project is linked to the Canadian critical minerals strategy, for which further major investments in industrial projects are anticipated,” the agency said.

Conversely, the value of new residential permits declined by 0.9% in the month to $6.6 billion.

Weakness in Ontario (down 8.1%) and Saskatchewan (27.0% lower) offset gains in residential permits in British Columbia and the Atlantic region, Statistics Canada reported.

For the first quarter, the total value of building permits was up by 4.8% over the previous quarter to $32.4 billion, following three consecutive quarterly declines.

Again, the non-residential sector led the way with a 16.1% rise to a record $13.0 billion in the first quarter.

“This coincided with the Bank of Canada’s decision to pause interest rate hikes, the first reprieve since initial hikes started in March 2022,” StatsCan noted.

Yet, residential permit activity still declined by 1.6% in the first quarter to $19.4 billion, marking the third straight quarterly decline.