Investment in Alberta non-residential building construction rises

CALGARY — Investment in non-residential building construction in Alberta increased 1.9 per cent to $2.2 billion in the second quarter, according to Statistics Canada.

In the Calgary census metropolitan area, investment rose by 1.2 per cent to $829 million.

“The endless roar of earthmovers, jackhammers and welding torches may fray the nerves of some, but that’s the price one pays for a red-hot economy,” said Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial. “And in Alberta, that roaring sound on construction sites ramped up over the spring.

“Seventy per cent of Alberta’s non-residential construction is in commercial real estate, such as shopping malls and office towers . . . Now that Alberta’s economy is once again doing well, commercial projects are steadily increasing. The value of commercial projects was $1.6 billion in Q2, much of that related to office tower construction in downtown Calgary.”

Hirsch said the steady increase in non-residential construction is an encouraging sign for Alberta’s economy.

“Still, with economic activity moderating somewhat in the second half of 2012, the value of non-residential construction could cool in the coming quarters,” he said.

At the national level, Statistics Canada said Tuesday investment in non-residential building rose by 1.8 per cent to $11.2 billion.

Investment in commercial building construction rose 2.3 per cent from the first quarter to $6.7 billion, across the country. It was up 1.4 per cent to $1.6 billion in Alberta.

“The gain (in Alberta) came from spending on office and retail buildings and from living quarters for the oilsands projects,” said Statistics Canada.

Nationally, industrial investment rose 6.2 per cent to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, the third consecutive quarterly gain.

“Alberta led with an 11.2 per cent increase to $333 million, attributable to investment growth in utility and maintenance buildings,” said the federal agency.

In the institutional component, investment declined 1.1 per cent from the first quarter to $3.1 million, across the country. This was the ninth consecutive quarterly decrease, although the pace of decline was slower in the second quarter, said Statistics Canada.

“The largest decrease occurred in Alberta, where investment declined 5.3 per cent to $271 million, reflecting the completion of several projects in the educational category,” it said.

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