Home construction is occurring at a rapid pace in towns a short driving distance from Red Deer, with residential building permits in high demand at Blackfalds, Penhold and Sylvan Lake.
Hammers are swinging particularly fast in Blackfalds, where the town approved $65.8 million worth of residential construction last year, up from $45.5 million in 2012.
“Right from the beginning it was strong,” said planning and development manager Terry Topolnitsky.
“And this year doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.”
Staff in Topolnitsky’s department approved a record $75.6 million in construction last year. That surpassed the previous high of $72 million, set in 2012 when the $17.3-million Abbey Master Builder Centre hit the books.
Last year was driven primarily by the housing market, said Topolnitsky, including $51.3 million for single-family dwellings and $7.9 million for townhouses.
“Really, all we had was small commercial, and then in industrial we had the $6-million My Garage World project,” he said, referring to a garage-storage bay complex being developed in town.
Blackfalds has become a popular destination for many home-buyers, added Topolnitsky, suggesting that the town’s rapid growth should further enhance its appeal.
“With the new Abbey Centre opening up, that will bring more people in too.”
South of Red Deer, the Town of Penhold churned out building permits for $13.8 million worth of housing in 2013.
“There were 84 homes built in our town,” said Mayor Dennis Cooper.
Homebuilders in Penhold were busy in 2012 as well, when $14.5 million in residential permits were issued. Cooper expects more of the same going forward.
He pointed out that his town has about 120 residential lots coming on stream to keep up with demand.
Penhold issued $19.2 million worth of building permits in all categories last year — a figure that was down from $27.6 million in 2012, when a $12-million approval for Chinook’s Edge School Division’s new Grade 7 to 12 school was granted.
But 2013 saw commercial-related permits jump to $4.4 million from zero the year before, thanks to the development of a grocery store; a medical centre with a pharmacy, doctors’ office and a dental clinic; and nearby commercial bays.
“It’s gong to create employment in our town,” said Cooper of the new businesses.
Last year, Sylvan Lake approved the greatest value of residential development that is had since 2008.
The $42.3 million worth of permits in this category included $23.8 million worth of single-family dwellings, and an $8.6-million, 73-unit apartment building.
Although Sylvan Lake’s overall permit tally of $52.2 million for 2013 was down from $54.3 million, the preceding year’s total included $7.2-million for the new town hall.
Among the bigger commercial and industrial projects approved last year were renovations to Cobb’s Block Central and development of storage buildings north of Hewlett Park Landing.
Earlier this month, the City of Red Deer reported that the value of its 2013 residential permits was $115.6 million — virtually unchanged from 2012.
However, a drop in permit values in the commercial and industrial categories resulted in the overall total declining to $243.4 million from $267.9 million.
Central Alberta’s other city, Lacombe, also held relatively steady when it came to residential building permit values last year.
Its tally edged downward to $21.4 million from $21.9 million in 2012.
But the value of construction approved in all categories was up in Lacombe last year — to $27 million from $25 million — thanks to a jump in commercial-industrial projects to $5.4 million from $2.9 million.
Residential permit values in Olds tumbled to $12.6 million from $25.4 million last year, with the combined value of permits in all development categories falling to $22.1 million from $53.6 million.
However, the 2012 figures were inflated by a number of multimillion-dollar projects, including the Vantage West Developments’ seniors complex and Mountain View Credit Union’s new building.
At Innisfail, residential permit values in 2013 totalled $9.2 million, down from $11.7 million.
But the value of permits issued by the town in all categories climbed to $21.4 million from $15.6 million, thanks to a nearly $7 million modernization project at École John Wilson elementary, middle and senior high schools, and $3.2-million in expansion work at Bilton Welding & Manufacturing Ltd.
Residential permit values in Rocky Mountain House last year fell to $4.1 million from $11.3 million, although the latter figure included a $3-million, 18-unit apartment building.
Overall permit values in Rocky were also down, to $13 million from $20.4 million, despite 2013 projects like the Rocky Credit Union expansion, the conversion of the former Zellers Select store into a Peavey Mart, and development of series of commercial bays.
Finally, the Town of Stettler issued permits for $2.8 million in residential construction last year, an improvement from $1.8 million. However, the overall total for the town slipped to $13.2 million from $17.6 million — due to the fact the 2012 figure included nearly $8.7 million for Points West Living’s 88-suite seniors complex.
Among the bigger projects in Stettler last year was the new Central Alberta Co-op liquor store, major renovations to the A&W Restaurant, highway commercial development and upgrades to the Stettler recreation centre.