Updated: Lacombe building activity bolstered by $13-million seniors apartment

Single-family home permit and total permit numbers down over last year

A $13-million seniors apartment building is welcomed in Lacombe, where development permit numbers have been trailing last year’s.

The Charis Seniors Village apartments helped push building permit values to just over $20 million through June, surpassing the half-year total of $12.5 million last year and $14 million from 2017.

“I am pleased to see this positive trend, as it indicates our local economy is starting to pick up,” said Mayor Grant Creasey in a statement.

“Council is committed to achieving economic vitality and growth for Lacombe by reducing red tape to improve permitting and development processes, and working to expand our commercial tax base.”

Apartment good news aside, Lacombe’s building permit statistics show the community — like most in central Alberta — is still feeling the effects of the lingering economic downturn.

Through six months, only 11 single-family home permits were issued — just over half the 19 permits issued at the same point last year. In 2017, 21 single-family home permits had been processed by the end of June.

Lacombe issued 67 building permits of all kinds to the end of June, down from 99 over six months last year and 110 in 2017.

Planning and development manager Debbie Bonnett said while the numbers so far fall short of last year, it seems busier at City Hall.

“It seems like we’re a lot busier than we are last year,” she said. “I think the numbers are OK.”

While the number of single-family home permits is down, apartment builders have been active. Two were built last year and quickly filled and a third is on the way.

In light of the economic times, builders are finding niche markets. One builder is developing a four-plex of one-bedroom suites, each havings its own garage.

The market is the 55-plus buyer, she was told.

Bonnett said there is often a burst of development activity in late summer and early fall, because builders want to get home foundations done before the snow flies.

She will have a better read on what sort of year can be expected after that, but she doubts the 33 single-family home permits issued last year will be matched.

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