Building values, jobless rate on the rise

The city’s June building report shows the value of Fort St. John construction through the first half of the year up $12.6 million over the first six months of last year.

The year-to-date total for 154 permits, is $88.2 million, as compared $75.6 million for 152 permits in 2014.

In fact, records show the six month totals have now increased in four consecutive years, with posts in 2012 and 2013 of $33.6 and $43.6 million, respectively.

Forty-two permits were issued last month with a combined value of $30.6 million .

Nearly one third of the June total was the result of a $9.6 million permit for a new hotel in the cities west end at 9519 111th Street.

Meantime, over 40 per cent of it — $12.9 million — was the result of the combined value of the permits for five 7- and 8-plex developments also in the west end, at 10303 112th Street.

It is also worth noting that city permit revenue continues its rapid rise, increasing by about $153,000 dollars last month, for a half year total of $441,000.

All this would seem to fly in the face of the sagging local area economy, reflected most recently by both the region’s rising jobless numbers and rental vacancy rates.

BC Stats latest report at the end of last week showed the Northeast has recorded a fourth consecutive monthly increase in the unemployment rate from 4.2 per cent in March to 6.1 per cent in June.

Meantime, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s spring rental vacancy rates had Fort St. John’s rate jumping from 1.5 per cent in April of last year to four per cent in April this year.

To date, attempts to get a possible explanation for the contradictory building numbers trend have failed, but the imminent Site-C dam construction is one possibility.