Construction crews are continuing to work on the new Penhold School to be operated by Chinooks Edge School Division.

Construction crews are continuing to work on the new Penhold School to be operated by Chinooks Edge School Division.

Outlook for permits appears optimistic

Central Alberta’s development officers won’t be able to tally their municipalities’ 2013 building permit values for seven months.

Central Alberta’s development officers won’t be able to tally their municipalities’ 2013 building permit values for seven months.

But a quarter of the way through the year, some had reason for optimism.

Coming off an exceptional year with nearly $72 million in construction approvals, the Town of Blackfalds has a tough act to follow.

But planning and development manager Terry Topolnitsky said the value of work approved by his department four months into 2013 was actually ahead of last year’s pace to the same point — by nearly $3 million.

A permit for a $6-million storage building was the biggest contributor, he said.

The outlook is also bright in Penhold. Mayor Dennis Cooper said Chinook’s Edge School Division’s new Grade 7 to 12 school was expected to generate a $10-million permit — on top of the $12-million permit issued in 2012 — and a new shopping centre with a supermarket and pharmacy was planned.

Cooper didn’t expect his town to match the $14.5 million in residential development it generated last year, but pointed out that two new subdivisions with about 140 lots are being added.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty aggressive year.”

Sylvan Lake had also set the stage for residential growth, said Tim Schmidt, the town’s director of planning and development.

“We’ve subdivided and created more land to date this year than we had in entirety last year,” he said, listing Ryders Ridge, The Vista in Ryders Ridge, Crestview and Beacon Hill as residential subdivisions where a variety of lot types were available.

Schmidt also pointed enthusiastically to development along Sylvan Lake’s waterfront, including redevelopment of Cobb’s Block Central and the proposed WatersEdge Condominiums project.

Major institutional projects on the horizon include a new fire hall, recreational facility improvements, and a kindergarten-to-Grade 8 public school that Chinook’s Edge School Division has declared its top capital priority.

School development was also expected to boost Innisfail’s permit total this year, with modernization work and new construction at École John Wilson elementary, middle and senior high schools valued at $6.9 million.

“That’s been our largest single project so far this year,” said Craig Teal, Innisfail’s director of planning and development.

Development of single-family homes was on par with 2012, added Teal, and industrial and commercial permits were up to $3.4 million — thanks mostly to a major expansion at Bilton Welding & Manufacturing Ltd.

“There are a few more industrial shops that I expect to come through this year as well,” he said.

The Town of Olds also appears poised for residential growth. In a recent Report to the Community, town officials said new developments could lead to as many as 600 to 700 new homes by 2016.

Guy Lapointe, community and economic development manager with the City of Lacombe, also expressed optimism about 2013.

Wolf Creek Crossing — a residential, commercial and industrial subdivision on the community’s east side — could begin generating permits this year, he said, and the city has acquired land for a second phase in Wolf Creek Industrial Park.

Meanwhile, work on Laebon Homes’ Trinity Crossing development, which contemplates a 73-unit apartment complex and 144 homes, is resuming after a lengthy delay.

“It’s shaping up to be, I think, a good year for us,” said Lapointe.

Four months into 2013, the Town of Rocky Mountain House had issued $5.4 million worth of building permits, up from $3.7 million to the same point last year.

Brad Dollevoet, the town’s director of planning and community development, said activity on the residential and commercial fronts have been strong. The latter included $3 million for expansion of Rocky Credit Union’s building.

In Stettler, the housing sector appears to be on the uptick, said planning and development officer Leann Graham.

“We’re seeing a lot more residential activity than we saw last year to this point.”

Ponoka economic development officer Sarah Olson described a similar situation in her community.

“The year is off to a busy start in terms of our regular permitting processes.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com