Tracking Residential Dwelling Conversions

An Exploration of Canadian Building Permit Survey Data

Jeff Allen

July 2024

Many Canadian cities need more housing, both now and in the near future. While urban sprawl consumes green spaces and strains resources, the conversion and expansion of existing buildings offer a more sustainable path forward. Research in Canada has shown that urban sprawl has far worse impacts on climate change than infill development. Moreover, maintaining existing building stock to help construct new units can reduce emissions related to procuring and transporting new building material.

There are a variety of building conversions: altering a single-family home to create additional dwelling units (a basement apartment for example); a duplex expanding into a triplex or fourplex; or converting a previously non-residential building into residential units.

On this page, we chart how different Canadian urban regions are doing in terms of creating new residential dwelling units from building conversions, over the five year period of 2019 to 2023.

The data are sourced from Statistics Canada's Building Permit Survey. This survey tracks attributes of building permits by Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) on a monthly basis. The survey includes the number of new dwelling units that were created due to building conversions, and has categories for three types of conversions (a. non-residential to residential, b. single dwelling to multiple dwellings, and c. multiple to multiple).

Overall across Canada there were 104,425 new dwelling units created via conversions in the five-year period from 01/2019 to 12/2023. This accounts for 7.9% of all new residential dwelling units created during this period, based on the data recorded in the building permit survey. Below we chart how this varies by CMA, trends over time, as well as different types of building conversions.


Total and percent of new dwellings from building conversions

01/2019 to 12/2023 (5 years total) % of all new units from conversions5%10% # of new units just from conversions
Linear Scale
Log Scale
Sort by #
Sort by %
500 1k 5k 10k 50k

New dwellings from building conversions, 01/2019 to 12/2023

100 Yearly totals Monthly trends

All Canada1920212223
Abbotsford-Mission1920212223
Barrie1920212223
Belleville-Quinte West1920212223
Brantford1920212223
Calgary1920212223
Chilliwack1920212223
Edmonton1920212223
Fredericton1920212223
Greater Sudbury1920212223
Guelph1920212223
Halifax1920212223
Hamilton1920212223
Kamloops1920212223
Kelowna1920212223
Kingston1920212223
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo1920212223
Lethbridge1920212223
London1920212223
Moncton1920212223
Montréal1920212223
Nanaimo1920212223
Oshawa1920212223
Ottawa-Gatineau1920212223
Québec1920212223
Peterborough1920212223
Regina1920212223
Saguenay1920212223
Saint John1920212223
Saskatoon1920212223
Sherbrooke1920212223
St. Catharines-Niagara1920212223
St. John's1920212223
Thunder Bay1920212223
Toronto1920212223
Trois-Rivières1920212223
Vancouver1920212223
Victoria1920212223
Windsor1920212223
Winnipeg1920212223

Proportion of new dwellings by type of building conversion

01/2019 to 12/2023 (5 years total)

One square = 1% of new dwellings from conversionsNon-residential to residentialSingle dwelling to multiple dwellingsMultiple dwellings to multiple dwellings

All Canada
Abbotsford-Mission
Barrie
Belleville-Quinte West
Brantford
Calgary
Chilliwack
Edmonton
Fredericton
Greater Sudbury
Guelph
Halifax
Hamilton
Kamloops
Kelowna
Kingston
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo
Lethbridge
London
Moncton
Montréal
Nanaimo
Oshawa
Ottawa-Gatineau
Québec
Peterborough
Regina
Saguenay
Saint John
Saskatoon
Sherbrooke
St. Catharines-Niagara
St. John's
Thunder Bay
Toronto
Trois-Rivières
Vancouver
Victoria
Windsor
Winnipeg

Code for this page is hosted on a GitHub repository. The subset of Building Permit Survey data shown on these charts can be accessed as a .csv file by clicking here. The full dataset, including many other types of building permits, can be queried and downloaded from Statistics Canada.