CALGARY, ALTA. — Calgary has seen strong building permit recovery in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

According to the city, its latest building permit data shows strong year-over-year growth in 2021. The total construction value of $5.7 billion is up 68 per cent compared to the $3.4 billion reported in 2020.

“Calgarians are optimistic about the future of our city and that is being reflected in both the residential and commercial building permit numbers,” says Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a statement. “Businesses and homeowners are investing in their neighbourhoods and that is in turn driving economic growth and creating jobs.”

Gondek added he believes the growth is a strong indicator that the city’s construction industry is rising up from the initial impacts of the pandemic. There were 21,055 building permit applications reported for the year, compared to the 10-year median of 16,598 and the 18,181 received in 2020. Residential construction value for 2021 was $3.6 billion, the highest it has been since 2015. Non-residential construction value finished at $2.1 billion, the highest number the city has seen since 2017.

Development permit applications submitted in 2021 totalled 8,340, up five per cent from 7,911 received in 2020. Outdoor café submissions saw the most significant increase with 285 applications in 2021 compared to 89 in 2020, resulting in a 220 per cent increase. Year-over-year, residential infill development applications increased by 59 per cent and major subdivisions by tentative plan saw a growth of 41 per cent.

“The development application submission numbers reveal an interesting story about the construction landscape,” says Stuart Dalgleish, general manager of planning and development. “We are seeing strong indicators of redevelopment happening in established areas of the city, homeowners looking for flexibility to enable home renovations and land ownership changes as Calgary continues to grow and change.”

Officials noted they have been working to improve the development process, including implementing the Development Applications Review Team model to streamline decision-making and improve city-building processes and services.

In 2021, improvements to the building permit approval process for business-related applications included the introduction of a quality and completeness check by Safety Codes Officers. Clarifying the requirements up front helps reduce the number of resubmissions and expedites the process as applicants move through approvals.

“In the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many industries were impacted by the effects of the virus, the construction industry in Calgary is no exception,” said Brenda Desjardins, director of Calgary Building Services. “2020 construction values were some of our lowest with early signs pointing to the same for 2021, but despite the pandemic, we’ve exceeded our 10-year median for construction value and permit applications by over 25 per cent.”