The total value of construction approved by the City of Red Deer slipped last year, but closer scrutiny of the numbers presents a more positive picture.
The city’s Development and Licensing Department issued $214.8 million worth of building permits last year — a 12 per cent drop from $243.3 million the previous year.
But the 2013 tally included $36.4 million in the public category, as compared to $1.1 million in 2014, thanks to the issuance of permits for École La Prairie, École Barrie Wilson Elementary School and Father Henri Voisin School.
“Those public projects will trend up and down with funding and demand,” noted Howard Thompson, the city’s Inspections and Licensing manager.
For instance, multimillion-dollar permits are expected in 2015 for the parkade at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and for new public and Catholic schools, he said.
Residential construction values in Red Deer were up 10 per cent last year, to $127.5 million from $115.6 million. Commercial values jumped nearly 20 per cent, to $42.5 million from $35.5 million.
Howard said approval for several apartment buildings helped boost the residential figure last year.
The value of industrial approvals for 2014 were down 23 per cent, to $43.8 million from $55.8 million.
“Some of that is just the timing of land supply,” said Thompson, pointing out that Red Deer’s Land and Economic Development is currently preparing the next phase of the city’s Queens Business Park.
He expressed satisfaction with the development of a number of major industrial buildings during the past year.
“When you see new industrial facilities going in with permanent employees, that’s always a boon for the community.”
The 1,612 building permits issued by the city last year exceeded the 2013 total of 1,522.
Erin Stuart, the city’s Development and Licensing supervisor, said the city has enjoyed consistent strong development in recent years.
“Overall, new construction investment has reached values at more than $200 million for three years in a row,” she said.
“This shows continued strength in the local economy.”
Thompson said indications are that 2015 could be a good year as well, with approximately $90 million worth of building permits pending. But he acknowledged there is some uncertainty, given current low oil prices.
Last year finished strong for the Development and Licensing Department, with $27.8 million worth of work approved in December.
That was up from $16.3 million for the same month in 2013.
Residential approvals represented $21.7 million of last month’s total, with this figure inflated by a pair permits for apartment buildings at 39 Van Slyke Way, valued at $6.9 million each.
Industrial approvals jumped to $3.6 million in December from $1.5 million a year earlier, thanks in large part to a building at 7915 Quinton Dr., valued at $3.3 million.