Numbers up, dollar value down for 2015 permits

While the dollar value of building permits was down in 2015 the number of permits increased slightly compared to previous years.

While the dollar value of building permits was down in 2015 for the Town of Ponoka, the number of permits increased slightly compared to previous years.

Residential building permits were the big difference in Ponoka with 2015 showing 71 permits with a value of $5.4 million compared to 2014 with 59 permits at a value of $9.6 million. Patricia Abdulla, director of planning and development said that while the permit values were down slightly, 2014 also had several large projects under works.

Four projects greater than half a million dollars in 2014 increased the numbers by approximately $2.5 million while in 2015 there were two projects greater than $500,000. Those two projects had a total value of approximately $2.2 million.

Abdulla suggests that in 2015 there may have been more home improvements than new housing starts, which would explain the difference in overall dollars.

When analyzing the numbers, Stephen Novak, economic development officer for the Town of Ponoka, suggests the more permits there are the better for the town. “We’re still seeing some progress locally,” said Novak.

While high value permits are important, more applications for building permits show there is movement on the development side of things. Contractors also like to see a large number of jobs and availability of projects to keep busy, he added.

In Alberta the biggest factor in any project, however, is the value of the dollar for a barrel of oil. One possible reason for a larger number of renovation projects in town is due to workers being home rather than being away for work and the possibility that trades people may be starting new businesses close to home.

What Abdulla has seen more than anything is an increase in inquiries at the town’s development office. She said she has been busy in the last few months with developers looking at potential projects. Most of them are smaller, yet sustainable projects. Novak added that approximately 470 business licence renewals were sent out last month.

He said at least six new business licences have been issued since then.

Total licences, including residential, industrial, commercial, institutional and other, were relatively satisfactory with 85 in 2015 compared to 82 in 2014. Generally, the dollar value for these projects was down, which contributed to the overall difference. Just over $10.5 million in permit value occurred in 2015 compared to $16.2 million in 2014.

However, Abdulla says it’s business as usual for the town’s planning and development department and while there is some economic uncertainty for 2016, she is hopeful with the number of queries she has received.