In a region where housing inventory and affordability remain issues, a recent report from City of Powell River may offer some optimism.
For the first half of 2019, the city’s planning services department reported the value of building permits is up about 60 per cent over the same period one year ago. The total amount in building permits issued through June 2019 is $30,780,424, compared to approximately $18 million for the same period in 2018.
“That’s up $12 million over the same period last year,” said director of planning services Thomas Knight. “It’s a significant increase and we’re confident we’ll end the year with historic numbers.”
Housing projects in the works include affordable accommodation for seniors. The most recent is a 75-unit seniors-oriented facility referred to as Coastal Winds. It will have studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites and aims to rent the units at rates below what is currently being charged for similar properties in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.
“One of the housing goals set by the planning services department is to provide local seniors with affordable housing to downsize and free up other housing to meet market demand,” added Knight.
Another factor contributing to the increase in permit values this year was a focus on new multiple family versus single family construction.
Five multiple family building permits were issued by June of this year. These units have a total value of $23 million and are expected to include some 154 new residential units when completed.
New single-family residential values were down approximately $1 million from $5,683,500 in 2018 to $4,588,500 this year. Permits for carriage houses were also down from 2018. This reduction may be in part due to the availability of contractors and the cost of building a carriage home, according to Knight. In total, 97 building permits have been issued to date, with 177 units created so far this year. During the same period in 2018, 87 permits had been issued and 25 units created.
“It’s amazing for a small and isolated community like Powell River to see this growth and indicates that more people are choosing to live here,” said mayor Dave Formosa. “We’re continuing to add to our tax base and the construction industry is creating jobs.”