08/31/2012 12:02 EDT

Vancouver Building Permits Boom, Values Hit $1.1 Billion

A woman joggs in Stanley Park in front of the Vancouver Skyline on February 19, 2010, during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. AFP PHOTO DDP / DAVID HECKER (Photo credit should read DAVID HECKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Vancouver, city on the grow.

That's the best way to assess the City's most recent news release, which showed that Vancouver building permit values reached $1.1 billion in the first half of 2012. That's a 30 per cent increase over the same period in 2011 and 16 per cent higher than pre-recession levels.

"It is fantastic to see such a remarkable rebound in Vancouver construction activity, with over 6,000 jobs created in the first half of this year alone and building permit values now exceeding pre-recession levels," Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release.

Building permit values in the first half of 2012 rose for the third straight year, from $373.9 million in 2009 to $653 million in 2010 and $768.7 million in 2011.

Last year's total annual building permit value was $1.7 billion. Just six months into the year, Vancouver looks like it will beat that mark.

Developments contributing to the increase include a 22-storey residential building at 999 Seymour Street, the Vancouver Hilton at 177 Robson and Granville Safeway, which will have two residential towers and retail space.

But residential buildings aren't the only developments making up the increase. Keith Sashaw of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association told News 1130 that Vancouver's building permit values are also being driven by the industrial and commercial sectors.

"There are three (office towers) underway right now, and a couple more working their way through the approval process," he said. "We haven't seen office towers built in the downtown core since the 70s or 80s."

Central 1 Credit Union chief economist Helmut Pastrick told the Vancouver Sun that the rise in building permit values represents a "welcome boost" for the economy, which he said has not been performing as well in 2012 as it did in 2011.

"It's certainly a positive boost," he said. "Construction is one of the few sectors that is contributing to the economy in a positive way."

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