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Canada's commercial construction reaches 3-year high

Canadian commercial and industrial construction has hit a three-year high, according to official figures

Data published by Statistics Canada this week showed that spending in those sectors in the second quarter of 2012 was the highest since the final quarter of 2008.

Investment in commercial building projects hit CAN$6.7 billion (£4.2bn) in the period from April to June.

Spending in the sector increased in every province except Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The largest increases occurred in Central Canada.

In Quebec, commercial investment rose 4.2 per cent to CAN$1.2 billion, with office and retail buildings leading the way.

Industrial investment rose to CAN$1.4 billion in the second quarter, with the largest gains in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.

Overall non-residential construction spending increased 1.8 per cent from Q1 2012 to CAN$11.2bn in Q2.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the strength of Canada’s banks had allowed commercial construction to remain relatively buoyant through the global economic downturn.

RICS economist Himanshu Wu said: ‘A large factor in the resilience of the commercial construction activity to the global downturn has been the relatively shallow Canadian recession, and the largely unscathed balance sheets of Canadian banks coming out of the recession.

‘This, added to the current low interest rate environment, has led to easy availability of low cost debt for builders and developers.’ 

Victor Smith, chief executive of Toronto-headquartered Ingenium - which owns UK practice Archial – told the AJ: ‘Over the past few years, based on Canada’s exceptional record of financial performance, a number of US and international architectural practices have demonstrated serious interest in pursuing work in this country; many of them with a reasonable degree of success.

‘There are still opportunities for non-Canadian firms that have specialized expertise in specific building types or with alternative delivery methods – notably Design-Build and P3.

‘Given the mature state of the market, the best results will likely be achieved through association with well-placed domestic practices.’

Among the other UK-based firms working in the country is Aedas which has two subterranean stations on the Spadina Subway Extension between Toronto and the City of Vaughan in Ontario for the Toronto Transit Commission. Both are set to complete in 2014.

Aedas' Highway 407 Station - a key base in Toronto’s “Transit City 2050” Masterplan providing a strategic interchange between private car park and ride, subway, express guided bus transitway and local bus services adjacent Highway 407, reducing inner city

Aedas’ Highway 407 Station - a key base in Toronto’s “Transit City 2050” Masterplan providing a strategic interchange between private car park and ride, subway, express guided bus transitway and local bus services adjacent Highway 407, reducing inner city congestion.

However, he warned there were ‘growing concerns’ that declining global demand for commodities would have a serious impact on the Canadian economy.

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