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Residential sector to be driven by an increased demand for affordable housing.

Residential sector to be driven by an increased demand for affordable housing

Recession or no recession, people still need somewhere to live.

The only question that remains is what type of residence will they choose - single-unit, duplex, townhouse or apartments.


In Sault Ste. Marie Syl Allard, a senior plans examiner for the city's building department, admits that home construction activity has dropped off significantly.

In the first two months of 1991 only three single dwellings worth a total of $252,000 were started. That compares to starts worth $996,000 during the first two months of last year.

Allard said he does not have a very good feeling about the level of single-unit home construction in 1991.

"It looks like for single dwellings there is not going to be too much activity until the middle of the year."

Factors affecting the level of construction activity include interest rate levels and the uncertainty about the city's economy, he explained.

There are several multi-unit projects either underway or planned for the city.

Construction began in February on a 40-unit, non-profit townhouse project, while a permit was recently issued for a 25-unit, non-profit apartment complex.

Two projects expected to be constructed this year are a 60-unit waterfront apartment complex valued at $4.5 million and a 100-unit, $8-million housing complex on Garden River Road.

A $14-million senior citizens condominium development and a $3.7-million, 48-unit apartment complex are also on the books.

Last year in Sault Ste. Marie the building permits issued represented $33.7 million in residential construction. Of that figure, single-unit housing represented $27.7 million, duplexes and triplexes represented $709,000 and apartments represented $5.3 million

The previous year had been a good one for single dwelling construction, partly because of transfers of provincial government employees to the city.


To the end of February there were no building permits issued for single units in North Bay.

Rolf Vasbotn, the chief building official with the City of North Bay, anticipates 1991 will be very similar to last year when 97 single units worth $9.7 million were built. An average year would see about 200 single units built.

However, a permit has been issued for the construction of 62 townhouses worth $3.6 million and construction is already underway.

"I know on the drawing board we will build quite a number of townhouses, probably double last year," Vasbotn said.

He said it is possible that a 50-to 60-unit apartment building will be constructed this year.

"I'm sure the housing need is there," he commented.

In North Bay last year permits were issued for three duplexes worth $240,000, 84 semi-detached units worth $4.9 million, 109 apartment units worth $6.6 million and 89 townhouses units worth $2.8 million.

"It was not particularly a good year, but not a disaster," Vasbotn commented.


There has been a good start to residential construction in Timmins this year with a 27-unit, $2.1-million project being approved just after New Year's.

However, Ron Peterson, the city's planning director said, "I would think residentially we will be well below last year in number of units."

One project which has already received the go-ahead in Timmins is a 40-unit, $2.8-million non-profit housing project.

Projects in the approval stages include a $2.8-million, 40-unit municipal non-profit housing project, a private, $3.5-million, 50-unit non-profit housing project and a $3.5-million, 50-unit private non-profit housing project for seniors.

"How many come to fruition this year is hard to tell," Peterson said.

Last year a total of 269 residential units were constructed. The figure included 151 single units, 87 apartments, 26 semi-detached units and five townhouses.

The total was below average for the last five years, but about average for the decade, Peterson said.

The total value of the new residential housing was $20.7 million.


In January the Regional Municipality of Sudbury issued permits for almost $1 million worth of residential construction. That compared to just less than $4 million in January 1990.

In February $1.8 million in permits was issued, compared to $6.9 million in February 1990.

"We had anticipated that after two record years in 1989 and 1990 that there would be some slackening in the residential sector, but what we see currently in the way of applications is that activity will pick up over the summer months," said Bernie Fransen, director of building controls with the Regional Municipality of Sudbury. "We think they will approximate last year's values."

However, during the first quarter of the year housing starts in Sudbury declined 81 per cent to 32 units from 168 units last year.

Fransen said, "There's a real need for subsidized housing."

A permit has been issued for a $4.7-million, 40-unit senior citizens apartment building.

Possibilities for this year include apartment buildings of 48, 72, 60 and 40 units respectively.

Residential construction last year in the region hit a record value for the second year in a row.

The value of residential construction in 1990 exceeded $130 million, compared to $108 million in 1989.

However, the total number of units fell slightly last year to 1,368 from 1,483 in 1989.

Last year residential construction accounted for more than half of the total building permits, which represented $258 million in construction.


Jim Buie, co-ordinator of plans examination with the City of Thunder Bay, said it is hard to predict what this year's construction levels will be.

"There is no indication this will be a bad year for single units," Buie said, adding that he expects that total single-unit construction will be 75 to 80 per cent of 1990's.

In the first two months of this year there were two permits issued for single units ($371,000), one for a duplex ($173,000) and none for apartment units.

In the first two months of 1990 there was one permit issued for an apartment block ($985,000), nine for single-family units (almost $1.2 million) and none for duplexes.

Possible large residential construction projects for this year include a 100-unit senior citizens apartment complex, a 72-unit apartment or condominium complex, another 96-unit apartment or condominium complex, a 30-unit apartment building and a 50-unit townhouse project.

Buie said that an increase was expected last year because of a beat-the-GST rush to get get homes built.

However, it did not occur, he noted. "It was more average than anything else."
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Title Annotation:Report on Construction
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1991
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