Number of business permits in Lethbridge fall after big year in 2017

WATCH ABOVE: It can be an unpredictable industry in Lethbridge, and this year it's taken a dive as the City of Lethbridge shows non-residential building permits fall by almost a third this year in comparison to 2017. As Demi Knight reports, the rise and fall of new construction in the area, can often reflect strongly on the city's economy.

Investment in construction is often seen as an economic indicator in Lethbridge and the city has seen a boom over the last few years but experts say, this year may be different.

A new report from the Economic Development Lethbridge shows that 2017 saw slightly more than $313 million in building permits.

That’s the second highest number recorded in the city’s history.

READ MORE: University of Lethbridge’s newest building nearly complete

However in the first half of this year, permit numbers have declined, showing less than 650 permits, compared to 904 in 2017.

A member of the Lethbridge Construction Association said the lull may continue throughout the remainder of the year

“Unfortunately I think the permit numbers are going to stay fairly low,” Erin Low, executive director with Lethbridge Construction Association said.

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“Although I’m hoping for a little bit of an upswing this fall, I don’t see it being anything substantial at this point and I don’t know how long that might last,” she said.

Low said 2017 was a big year with the city of Lethbridge showing three new government and institutional builds that totaled $128.5 million.

It’s a category that has seen no new permits so far this year and could affect the total revenue outcome for 2018.

READ MORE: Slow down: Construction season causing concern in Lethbridge residential areas

“The other thing we find is that even though there were lots of announcements of new projects they were mostly centered in the larger areas, so very little of that did actually trickle down into Lethbridge and southern Alberta,” she said.

Although the construction industry may be taking a hit so far in 2018, Economic Development Lethbridge said there’s no need to fear as new infrastructure projects are being planned and are currently underway, totaling more than $1 billion over the next three years.

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