Non-residential Construction Trends within BC

Here at Urban Futures, we often talk about the impact that our aging population is expected to have on our future labour force, and how in turn this may limit the capacity of our economy to grow. Of course, labour force growth isn't the only determinant of economic growth--productivity is, too, and it can be influenced by many factors, including the extent to which we are investing in the infrastructure required to keep our economic engine running efficiently.

With this in mind, and thanks to a recent data release by Statistics Canada, we're happy to bring to you our latest viz, which looks at non-residential (industrial, commercial, and institutional) construction trends within British Columbia.

Between Q1 2001 and Q3 2015, quarterly non-residential construction spending in BC as a whole (in seasonally-adjusted, current dollars) more than doubled, growing by 113% from $666,151 million to $1.42 billion. If we look at more recent history, after taking a hit during the 2008-09 recession, investment in province-wide non-residential building construction rose by 13% between Q2 2010 and Q3 2015.

All of this post-recession growth was the result of spending increases in the Lower Mainland (comprising the Vancouver and Abbotsford-Mission Census Metropolitan Areas, or CMAs); to wit, in comparison to the 45% increase in investment in non-residential building construction in this metropolitan region, spending actually declined by 45% in the Victoria CMA and by 14% in non-CMA parts of the province. This resulted in the Lower Mainland's share of provincial spending on non-residential construction rising from 55% in Q2 2010 to 67% in Q3 2015.

Going forward, it will be important for BC's resource regions (that is, those non-CMA parts of the province) to invest in new non-residential infrastructure in order to maintain our economic competitiveness in relation to other Canadian provinces and other countries. It will be interesting to see what unfolds with future data releases, so stay tuned!