Planning and Development Department Building and Development Permit Summary Report

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1 Planning and Development Department 21 Building and Development Permit Summary Report February 22, 21

2 2 21 Building and Development Permit Summary Table of Contents Introduction... 3 Building Permits... 3 Development Permits... 7 Other Activity... 8 Conclusions and 211 Outlook... 9 List of Figures Figure 1 Volume of Building Permits by Type (21) 3 Figure 2 Volume of Building Permits Issued per Month (29-21) 4 Figure 3 Percentage of Building Permits Issued by Neighborhood (21) 5 Figure 4 Volume of Building Permit Activity (21-21) 5 Figure 5 Volume of New Residential Construction Adjusted for Inflation (21-21) 6 Figure 6 Housing Starts by Market (21) 6 Figure 7 Housing Starts by Market and Type (21) 7 Figure 8 Volume of Development Permit Activity (21-21) 7 Figure 9 Volume of Development Permit Activity per Month (29-21) 7 Figure 1 Volume of Residential Permits by Type (21) 8 Figure 11 Volume of Non-Residential Permits by Type (21) 8 Figure 12 Compliance Activity (21) 8 Figure 13 Compliances Issued by Month (21) 9 Figure 14 Safety Codes Permits Issued by Type (21) 9 Figure 15 City of Spruce Grove Population Growth ( ) 9

3 3 Introduction Building permit activity is a standard measure used to track the economic vitality in communities. It is useful for communities to monitor trends in building permits to determine their economic health, as well as to examine the impact of external forces on growth and development. Growth in Spruce Grove has generally been stronger than the average for the Capital Region. During the last decade, this community experienced unprecedented growth and the trend toward urbanism shows no sign of slowing. The following pages contain analysis of the growth trends for the past decade (21-21), focusing specifically on activity in 21. We will be able to see the impact of the global economy on Spruce Grove reflected by the boom years and subsequent recession at the end of the decade. This report provides an overview of building permit and development permit information. In addition, compliances and other permits are tracked in order to provide a more accurate picture of the total activity taking place in the Planning and Development Department of the City. Building Permits Spruce Grove issued 784 building permits in 21. This number is up slightly from 29, when 72 building permits were issued. In fact, 21 is the third busiest year in the City s history in terms of building permits, which is somewhat surprising given the questionable market conditions following the recession of 28 and 29. While Administration does not expect that permits will reach over 9 in the near future, as they did during the boom of 26-27, we may find that 7+ permits issued each year will become the new norm for the City of Spruce Grove. Volume of Building Permits by Type (21) Figure 1 Institutional Improvements 3 Institutional 2 Industrial Imrovements 7 Industrial 1 Commercial Improvements 5 Commercial 6 Garages 37 Residential Improvements 285 Multi-Family Residential 33 Semi-Detached Residential 55 Single Detached Residential Figure 1 illustrates the breakdown of building permits issued by type. About 92% of the permits issued in 21 were for residential construction, including new dwellings, improvements and garages. New single detached dwellings and residential improvements each accounted for 36% of all permits.

4 January February March April May June July August September October November December Number of Permits 4 Residential construction dominates Spruce Grove s building history. However, the numbers for commercial development, both new construction and renovations, appear lower than one might expect for a community of this size. Part of the slump is likely due to a sluggish economy as businesses emerge from the recent recession. As the recovery continues, we should see more commercial and industrial construction take place. In addition, several new commercial areas within Spruce Grove are expected to begin and expand development over the next two years, so total numbers should reflect higher levels of activity in the coming construction seasons. New single detached dwellings were up this year to 281 from 227 in 29. The number of semi-detached units was also up to 79 units from 55 the previous year. Overall, this represents a 2% increase in single detached and a 3% increase in semi-detached dwellings compared to 29. It is important to point out that the category of multi-family residential development is often skewed, due to the way that permits are reported. In 21, there were 33 building permits issued, but one of those permits was for a 99-unit apartment building. Therefore, 131 new residential units were approved for construction in total. For townhouses or fourplexes, each dwelling unit requires its own building permit, but apartment complexes do not require separate permits. Therefore, the total number of all new dwelling units approved in 21 is 491, up significantly from 29 units in 29. For the first time in five years, the number of residential improvements has declined. Permit numbers rose steadily between 26 and 29, peaking last year at 49% of the total number of building permits issued. In 21 that proportion has dropped to 36% of all permits. In part, the change may be attributed to the tax refund offered in previous years by the federal government, which is no longer available. Figure 2 shows us the number of building permits issued per month for 29 and 21. In this region, permit activity is usually slowest during the winter months, increasing in the spring and remaining high until the ground freezes in the autumn months. In 21, Volume of Building Permits Issued per Month (21) Figure 2 the permit activity started on an uncharacteristically high note, and rose even higher through the warmer part of the year before tapering off as expected. Permit levels in the first half of 21 were higher than usual, which could be due to several different factors. One is that the Bank of Canada announced early in the year that interest rates would rise in June, which could have spurred people into purchasing a new home earlier than expected. The other factor is that new rules for obtaining a mortgage went

5 Number of Building Permits 5 into effect in the spring, requiring higher down payments among other changes. Again, knowing that changes were imminent may have pushed people into the new home market in advance of the changing mortgage regulations. Figure 3 illustrates the housing starts in Spruce Grove by subdivision. The percentages indicate single detached, semi-detached and multi-family dwellings; the 99 unit apartment building which was approved in the Lakewood neighborhood is excluded from the map. The majority of new dwellings were approved in Harvest Ridge and Spruce Village for the second year in a row. We can expect to see this change as Spruce Village wraps up development and new neighborhoods such as McLaughlin and Greenbury see more activity in 211. Figure Volume of Building Permit Activity (21-21) Figure New Construction Improvements A summary of permit activity over the past decade is displayed in Figure 4, separating new construction from improvements across all categories. The numbers displayed include residential, commercial, industrial and institutional permits. We can see that both new construction and improvements are high with 21 as the fourth highest

6 Dollar Value 6 year for new construction and the third highest year for improvements, combining for the third highest number of permits overall in the City s history. Part of the reason for the continuation of high improvements is probably due to the number of new homes constructed over the past decade. Improvements such as detached garages, decks, retaining walls and finished basements are common projects undertaken after a new home is complete. The image in Figure 5 is a reflection on building permit values for new residential construction over the past decade. This chart shows the yearly permit values after being adjusted for inflation 1. Please note that the index used for the adjustment cites 1997 as the base year. We can see that in 25 there is a departure, where the inflationary value of construction starts to diverge $15,,. $1,,. $5,,. $- Value of New Residential Construction Adjusted for Inflation (21-21) Inflation Adjusted from the typical small increase. By 26 and beyond, inflationary forces skyrocket and more than double the real value of construction. However, with the recession in 29 the gap begins to close slightly. The trend in 21 is a rebound, although inflation has been tempered compared to the mid-point of the decade. In order to provide some regional context for the City s growth, housing data released Housing Starts by Market, 21 Figure 6 by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation was Stony Plain St. Albert consulted 2. Figure 6 shows the number of new housing starts in a number of communities in the Capital Region. It shows that the Spruce Grove Leduc number of new housing units is highest in the City of Leduc, followed by Spruce Grove. From Fort Saskatchewan the following graph, Figure 7, it can be inferred that the reason those communities have the most starts is Year Value Figure 5 1 Inflation rates are from the New Housing Price Index through Statistics Canada. The index is broken down regionally by major city. For this report, the Edmonton rates were used. Source: on January 6, Regional housing data is from the Housing Now publication. Note that their method includes site visits based on building permit data and a start is noted by a foundation being poured or equivalent. For this reason the numbers in this report do not match Spruce Grove s data exactly. In addition, the report only covers the months January through November. Source: on January 25, 211.

7 7 due to large multi-family unit projects. Spruce Grove had the highest number of single detached dwelling starts, and the highest number of semi-detached dwelling starts. However, Leduc had nearly 3 multi-family unit starts, pushing it in front of Spruce Grove for starts in Housing Starts by Market and Type Figure Fort Saskatchewan Leduc Spruce Grove St. Albert Stony Plain 5 Single Semi Multi Development Permits Volume of Development Permit Activity (21-21) Figure Volume of Development Permit Activity (29-21) Figure Development permit activity in 21 echoed the trends shown by the building permit data. There were a total of 747 development permits issued in 21, which is up from 699 permits in 29. Again, this is lower than during the boom period of 26-27, but still historically high. In fact, it is the third highest level of activity Spruce Grove has ever seen. Figure 8 shows the trends in the volume of development permit activity over the last ten years. The number of permits issued in 21 reflects a robust level of growth for the City of Spruce Grove. The next factor under examination is the volume of development permits on a monthly basis. Figure 9 shows the number of permits issued by month for 29 and 21. The

8 8 pattern shown is typical of development activity for the region, where more activity tends to take place during the warmer months. The pattern for 21 is typical, unlike in 29 when the city saw an unexpected surge in development during November and December. Figure 1 shows the breakdown of residential development permits issued by type. The graph is dominated by new single detached dwellings and improvements made to existing residences. Generally, the permit numbers echo what we have already seen with the building permits. It Volume of Residential Permits by Type (21) Figure 1 should be explained that once 35 again, multi-family dwellings tend Single Detached to show a discrepancy. That is Semi-Detached because for a townhouse, fourplex or sixplex a separate Multi-Family building permit is required for each dwelling unit, but only one Improvements development permit is required Garages for the entire structure, regardless 13 of the number of units contained 87 within. The breakdown of nonresidential permits issued in Volume of Non-Residential Permits by Type (21) 21 by type is examined in Figure Commercial Figure 11. Again, the trends Commercial seen earlier with building 19 Improvements permits are evident here with Industrial the number and type of development permits. Only 7% Industrial Imrovements 2 of the permits issued were for Institutional new non-residential permits. The remaining 93% of 63 Institutional development permits were Improvements issued for improvements such as renovations, additions, or for a new business to locate in an existing development. Other Activity The City of Spruce Grove provides compliances as a service to residents during real estate transactions. In 21 there were 67 compliances issued, up from 629 in 29. Figure 12 illustrates the compliance activity in Spruce Grove over the past decade. 21 saw an Compliance Activity (2-29) Figure

9 Population Number of Compliances 9 increase after two years of decline, and we expect that the number of real estate transactions will rise slightly again in 211 as the economy continues to strengthen and new neighborhoods begin development Compliances Issued by Month (21) Figure 13 In figure 13, we examine the compliance activity for 21 on a monthly basis. We can see that overall, the trend in real estate transactions follows the building trend where activity is lowest in the cold months and steady for the warmer months. Few families choose to move in December because of the holidays, so that is usually the month with the least activity for the year. Safety Codes Permits Issued, 21 Figure 14 The Planning department tracked the amount of activity taking place in the Safety Codes disciplines (other than 694 building) for the first time in 21. While the City has tracked building Electrical permit information for many years, this 1153 Plumbing is the first time we have collected data Gas on electrical, plumbing and gas permits. We can see in Figure 14 that 487 the number of electrical permits is nearly double the plumbing and gas. This makes sense since generally for new construction two electrical permits are required, where only one is required in the other two disciplines. Overall, the City of Spruce Grove issued 2334 Safety Codes permits in 21. Conclusions and 211 Outlook Overall, building and development permit activity for 21 was higher than for the previous two years, but lower than what was seen during the boom of Spruce Grove continues to City of Spruce Grove Population Growth ( ) experience strong growth, and we 3 would expect that 21 should 25 serve as a good benchmark for 2 activity in the short term. A primary reason for the continued high permit 15 levels is that Spruce Grove remains 1 an attractive community for new 5 residents. This is evidenced by our continued population growth, shown Year Figure 15

10 1 in Figure 15. As long as the population continues to grow as it did between 29 and 21, with over 5% growth, building and development permit activity will remain robust. In 211, we can expect levels of activity that are similar to 21. The Bank of Canada has introduced new regulations for mortgages, and there is the possibility of an interest rate increase later in the year that may prevent some potential buyers from entering the housing market. However, we hope that an increase in permits for non-residential uses will make up for any slight decline in residential figures. Continued improvements in the market, particularly the strong Canadian dollar, may result in greater investment in the available industrial and commercial areas within Spruce Grove. While outlooks for Canada and Alberta in 211 are positive, they are also quite conservative in terms of new growth in construction and employment. Experience teaches us that Spruce Grove s numbers have tended to be higher than what we might expect from broad forecasts. The population growth witnessed in recent years is perhaps the best indicator of Spruce Grove s position in the region, where even during the recession when growth should have slowed to a crawl, the City still saw healthy levels of new residents entering the community. In turn, population increase leads to new construction, particularly for residential permits. Council should expect that the population will continue to grow, and with it demand for new housing. Due to the availability of commercial land and the lack of commercial development on the east side of the City, administration expects a mini-boom of non-residential development in that area for the next decade. Due to the success of the format for the quarterly reports to Council in 21, Administration will continue to present information in the same format going forward. The staff in Planning and Development feels that the data and frequency of reports is the most effective means of providing in-depth communication to Council on development activity in the community.