Ontario residential building permits return to pre-pandemic levels across all categories

For the first time in three years, Ontario saw the number of residential building permits drop after reaching all-time highs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, 108,080 building permits were issued across Ontario for new development as well as home improvement. This represents an approximate 11.6 per cent decrease from the previous year, ending a trend of year-over-year increases and returning to 2020 levels.

“People across Ontario were spending most, if not all, of their time at home during the pandemic and many decided it was an ideal time to take out building permits to update their homes,” explains Carmelo Lipsi, MPAC Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, people are starting to gravitate back to experiences and travel. Coupled with the fact that the cost of borrowing has increased with higher interest rates, we’re seeing fewer permits issued, signaling a shift in priorities.” 

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which tracks property data across the province of Ontario, reports residential home improvement permits decreased by more than 9 per cent in Ontario, to more than 63,000. These permits were for home improvements including renovations, additions, swimming pools, sheds, garages and decks. Despite a decrease from the previous year, permits are still up from pre-pandemic, 2019 levels by 22 per cent (51,597 permits issued).

Below is an overview of the data analyzed by category: 

  • Total Building Permits – 108,080 permits were issued across Ontario, down by approximately 11.6 per cent from 2021. Toronto led the province with the most permits issued (9,359), representing almost no change from 2021 (9,478). Kitchener, Mississauga, Guelph and Oshawa saw an increase in the number of permits from the previous year (2,478, 2,041, 1,416 and 1,370, respectively). 
  • Residential Home Improvement – 63,047 permits were issued province-wide in 2022, a decrease of 9.27 per cent from 2021. The City of Toronto remains at the top of the list with 6,803 permits; however, the city did see a 3.2 per cent drop from 2021. Brampton is second with 5,485 permits (down 25.7 per cent from the previous year) and in third was Ottawa (down 16 per cent).
  • Residential Renovations/Additions – permits decreased by almost 3.5 per cent, dropping to 37,068. This is still 28 per cent higher than pre-pandemic, 2019 levels, and 15.7 per cent ahead of 2020 levels.
  • Residential Swimming Pools – down substantially from pandemic highs, the number of swimming pool permits dropped by almost 27 per cent with 6,617 permits issued in the province. Ottawa remains the pool capital of Ontario, despite experiencing a nearly 43 per cent decrease from the previous year. In 2022, 780 pool permits were issued across the city compared to the 1,372 issued in 2021.
  • Residential Sheds – shed permits are also down, dropping to 3,409 permits in 2022— almost a 20 per cent decline from 2021. To require a permit, a shed must be a minimum size, so this category includes large, stylish sheds that have become increasingly popular as separate living/workspace or backyard getaway. Ottawa had 122 shed permits issued which was an increase of 14 per cent over the year prior.
  • Residential Garages – permits for garages decreased with 6,014 issued across the province in 2022 (more than a 9 per cent decrease) compared to the 6,579 issued in 2021. Toronto had the most, with 330 permits (an increase of about 41 per cent). Only two other municipalities experienced an increase in garage permits last year: Sault Ste Marie with 104 permits (an increase of almost 12 per cent) and the Township of Muskoka Lakes with 81 permits (an increase of more than 12 per cent). 
  • Residential Decks – deck permits decreased in 2022 to 8,257, down about 13 per cent from 2021. Hamilton continued to lead in this category with 572 deck permits issued in 2022 (a decrease of more than 35 per cent from 2021).

MPAC receives notification of these building permits from municipalities, initiating a review of the changes to a property. Prioritizing a clear and accessible assessment process, MPAC is committed to delivering the most accurate property assessments possible.

“The information in these permits is a valuable input for our assessments but Ontario property owners can make sure the information we have on file is up to date at any time,” says Lipsi. “This can be done via our online portal, AboutMyProperty, on the MPAC website or by calling our customer service line.”

About MPAC

MPAC is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by all Ontario municipalities, accountable to the Province, municipalities and property taxpayers through its 13-member Board of Directors.

Our role is to accurately assess and classify all properties in Ontario in compliance with the Assessment Act and regulations set by the Government of Ontario. We are the largest assessment jurisdiction in North America, assessing and classifying more than 5.5 million properties with an estimated total value of more than $3 trillion.