2014 showing mixed results in development

At the midway point of 2014, development activity across Central Alberta was a mixed bag.

At the midway point of 2014, development activity across Central Alberta was a mixed bag.

Some communities, like Blackfalds, were enjoying stellar years; others, such as Red Deer, had building permit stats that were lagging well behind last year’s pace.

With $89.0 million in work approved as of June 30, the Town of Blackfalds had already surpassed the $75.6 million worth of permits it issued through all of 2013. Its six-month figure last year was $37.8 million.

Residential projects had accounted for $65.3 million of Blackfalds’ 2014 approvals, up from $29.3 million six months into 2013.

With $78.5 million worth of permits issued to the end of June, including $57.7 million for residential work, the City of Red Deer has a lot of catching up to do if it’s going to match 2013 development by year’s end.

By last June, the city had approved $132.1 million worth of work, with $53.6 million of this related to residential construction.

However, Red Deer’s 2013 numbers were inflated by approvals for three new schools — École Barrie Wilson, Father Henri Voisin School and École La Prairie — and several other multimillion-dollar projects in the industrial and commercial categories.

“Overall permit values to date in 2014 remain behind those of 2013,” acknowledged Howard Thompson, Red Deer’s inspections and licensing manager. “However, permits in process remain strong at more than $80 million, with several large building projects ready to proceed soon.”

While not at Blackfalds’ level, building intentions in Olds were also strong to start 2014. The town had approved $29.8 million worth of work to the end of June, up from $9.0 million a year ago.

Olds College’s new student residence accounted for more than half of this year’s total, at $15.6 million. Permits related to residential work in Olds added $9.6 million, up from $6.0 million for the same period last year.

Rocky Mountain House also put up some impressive numbers to start 2014. It had $31.4 million in total permit values, with $12.4 million of this connected to residential work. Last year, the six-month figure was $7.7 million, of which $2.0 million was for residential permits.

Rocky’s upward spike can be attributed to a pair of projects: $13 million for an upgrade and expansion of the Rocky Mountain House Arena Complex, and $11 million for the Park Avenue seniors complex being developed by Christenson Communities and Laebon Developments.

The planning department at Sylvan Lake has also been busy, with $25.6 million worth of permits issued to the end of June, up from $20.8 million. Residential construction accounted for $22.2 million of this year’s figure, as compared with $15.1 million for the same six months of 2013.

Meanwhile in Penhold, building permit approvals to start 2014 were up to $18.1 million, of which $7.9 million were for residential projects. A year ago, the town’s planning department had issued $7.5 million worth of permits, with $6.7 million of these related to residential work.

Penhold’s 2014 numbers have been boosted by a $6.5-million permit for a sewage lift station in Laebon Developments’ new Palisades subdivision, and commercial development in the town’s Hawkridge Market Square.

The City of Lacombe issued $10.6 million worth of permits during the first half of 2014, down from $9.1 million. The residential component slipped to $7.9 million from $9.5 million.

Further north in Ponoka, total permit values declined to $10.4 million in the first half of 2014 from $15.5 million for the same period in 2013.

However, renovations to the former Diamond Willow Middle School and Ponoka Composite High School accounted for more than $12 million of last year’s tally.

This year’s permit values in Ponoka received a $5.5-million boost from a couple big commercial builds.

Innisfail also saw a drop in its six-month permit figures as a result of multimillion-dollar projects in 2013: $7 million in modernization work at École John Wilson Elementary School and a $3.2 million expansion of Bilton Welding & Manufacturing Ltd. These helped lift the town’s January-to-June development tally to $16.9 million in 2013, a figure that dipped to $7.9 million this year.

Residential approvals in Innisfail declined to $3.6 million from $6.3 million.

Finally, Stettler issued $5.3 million worth of permits during the first half of 2014, including $1.2 million for residential work.

Last year, the east-Central Alberta town produced $3.9 million in permits, of which $1.7 million was for residential construction.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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